Irish Green Party representatives Neasa Hourigan, T.D. and Patrick Costello, T.D. have both recently made announcements regarding the need for policymakers and citizens to go further to address femicides in Ireland.
Costello, the Irish Greens’ Justice Spokesperson, issued a statement on January 14th to mourn Ashling Murphy, a 23-year-old school teacher who was attacked and killed while jogging alongside a canal near Tullamore in early January 2021 by Jozef Puska. Her death has since garnered the attention of the entire Republic of Ireland.
Additionally, Costello calls for the boys and men of Ireland “to take the lead in turning the tide of violence against women… we as the men of Ireland need to reflect on our own behaviour and to make the necessary changes in our lives to put an end to misogyny and violence against women in Ireland.” He is pushing the government to pursue a more aggressive approach to help deter perpetrators, while also encouraging Irish boys and men to call out the casual sexism which has been prevalent in Irish society.
Speaking in the Dáil (lower house) on January 20th, Neasa Hourigan T.D. – Spokesperson on Finance and Health – emphasized how migrant women and sex workers are disproportionately represented in cases of femicide, and that both groups “must be central to any strategy” if Ireland is to empirically improve the situation.
Hourigan retold the story of Urantsetseg Tserendorj, a Mongolian mother of two who had lived in Dublin for a few years before she was stabbed to death on her way home from work by a 15 year-old boy last January. Hourigan’s speech highlights the need for government to take stronger, more immediate action, stating: “[w]omen, girls, and all minorities should be supported to reclaim their streets and their freedoms. It is simply not good enough that local authorities, public transport companies, etcetera, expect women to curtail their freedoms to protect themselves instead of providing adequate lighting, security, active and passive surveillance… to ensure that [public spaces] are safe for everyone.”
Ireland is not the only advanced democratic country whose strategies for countering femicide and misogyny have been recently called into question. Canada has also seen an increase in reported femicides and instances of violence against women, much of it attributed to COVID-19 restrictions and financial stress – a point emphasized by Myrna Dawson (professor and member of the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability at the University of Guelph). In Canada, 92 girls and women were reported killed in the first 6 months of 2021.
As the pandemic winds down and restrictions are slowly lifted, a decline in violent behaviour is expected, but certainly not guaranteed. Regardless of the state of the pandemic, adequate safety for girls and women demands our collective attention. Without serious changes to current policies, including the need to better address violent male behaviour more directly, we will continue to fail the world at large.