NDA Submission to the Consultation on the Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
In its submission, the NDA highlighted the importance of UNCRPD Articles 6 and 16 in relation to the new Strategy. We advised that the drafting of the Strategy is progressed in the context of the UNCRPD, in order to consider the relevant obligations of the various stakeholders/audiences, and to emphasise the importance of these obligations in the final Strategy. Similarly, the drafting of the Strategy should also be progressed in the context of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which was ratified by Ireland in 2019 and which has due regard to the UNCRPD.
The NDA included several statistics which illustrate the high prevalence of persons with disabilities presenting at Rape Crisis Centres, and which show that persons with disabilities are 2.9 times more likely to have experienced domestic violence or abuse by an intimate partner than other adults. Previous studies have shown that several barriers to disclosure and reporting exist, including the fear of being blamed, the fear of not being believed and the fear of the legal process. In one study (funded by the NDA), approximately one quarter of respondents with disabilities mentioned fear of losing support as a factor in not disclosing abuse.
In 2020, the NDA participated in a scoping study commissioned by the Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme in the HSE Health and Wellbeing, Strategic Planning and Transformation department, to inform the next national survey on sexual health, wellbeing and crisis pregnancy among the general population in Ireland. In our submission we emphasised the particular importance of measuring whether respondents had a disability; gender-based violence; non-consensual/coercive sex; and consent and capacity to consent. We advised that this survey would offer important data for the Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence. We added that the Third National Strategy should include a particular focus on strengthening data collection with regard to disability.
The NDA also detailed how barriers may be removed by ensuring that services, facilities, buildings and communications are accessible. We also advised that the drafting has due regard to the work of the sub-groups established under the O’Malley Review of Protections for Vulnerable Witnesses in the Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Offences.
Finally, we emphasised the importance of accessible, inclusive and appropriate Relationships and Sexual Education in schools.