Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Kathleen Funchion TD, has said more must be done to support migrant women who are victims of domestic or sexual violence.
Her comments follow her engagement with the sector, as part of her ongoing work throughout the 16 Days campaign to highlight how violence against women is impacting on different communities and ensure their voices are heard.
The international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign began on 25th November.
Teachta Funchion said: “I want to thank the Migrant Women’s Council and Immigrant Council for engaging with me on this vital issue- which does not receive enough attention.
“I want to commend both councils for their excellent ongoing work in helping migrant women access essential services.
“The Migrant Women’s Council told me that a number of issues need to be addressed to ensure that migrant women who are victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence get appropriate support.
“They highlighted that language and cultural barriers can exist when migrant women report a crime. They have suggested that cultural sensitivity training for Gardaí could help bridge such gaps and ensure women can have confidence in the criminal justice system.
“They also stressed to me how women living in Direct Provision can feel severely vulnerable if experiencing domestic abuse. Many can feel doubly trapped within both an abusive relationship and the oppressive system of Direct Provision.
“They also highlighted that funding for bed spaces within domestic violence refuges is desperately needed.
“The Immigrant Council highlighted with me the need for overarching strategies directed at violence against women to demonstrate a holistic approach. They noted that this does not currently happen enough in Ireland and that doing so would result in better synchronicity and effectiveness.
“They warned that gender-neutral policy decisions can fail to recognise the needs of trafficked women who are recovering from sexual exploitation.
“It is essential that migrant women’s unique needs are not ignored in the ongoing discussions around violence against women. I will continue to highlight this and ensure their voices are listened to.
“I am especially concerned that women living within Direct Provision can be particularly vulnerable to abuse in uniquely challenging and distressing ways. I will continue to hold the Government to account on ensuring that the inhumane system of Direct Provision is reformed urgently.
“It is clear that a holistic approach to tackling violence against women is the best option for ensuring that all women can receive vital support.
“Sinn Féin have been consistently calling on the Government to ensure that more funding is allocated to ensure more bed spaces are available. No woman seeking help when fleeing an abusive relationship should ever be turned away.
“The Government has a clear duty to ensure that refuge provision is available and will continue to press for this vital issue to be addressed.”