Violence against women and girls motion passed by local Councillors

Violence against women and girls is a fundamental human rights violation, affecting around one in three women and girls around the world and it was a topic that a number of Councillors spoke passionately about at the recent Full Council meeting .

Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 10:33 am
Sisters Andrea and Micaela McGillian place lighted candles on the Guildhall steps recently in remembrance of Sarah Everard. DER2110GS – 109

A motion brought by SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan, and passed unanimously, saw Derry City & Strabane District Council agree to acknowledge the growing prevalence of violence against women and girls. They will also write to the Minister of Justice and NI Executive urging them to advance legislation making street harassment a criminal offence.

Colr Durkan said: “These issues affect everyone, not just women, we all need to be part of the conversations, part of any strategy and part of the solution.

“Over the past few weeks we have all seen and heard stories of heartbreak and horror; of women and girls who are living in fear in their own homes, on the streets and workplaces. We have seen Sarah Everard, we have seen closer to home the double tragedy in Newtownabbey and we mentioned about the heavy handed policing at Clapham and Creggan.”

Alliance Councillor Rachael Ferguson added her support saying: “I like many have been horrified by the recent number of women who have been attacked and even murdered. Sarah’s story has highlighted something that has been happening for far too long and then we have the murder of the two women here at home. To think that 97% of women have said they have been harassed in some way is unacceptable.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy thanked Councillor Durkan for bringing the motion before speaking personally.

“A strategy for violence against women and girls is long overdue,” she said. “The majority of women and girls have experienced some form of violence perpetrated towards them and I myself am not exempt from that.

“As a mother of two daughters I worry every single minute of every single day about them. I tell them to be careful and tell them not to walk home on their own. This in my view is completely unfair to be putting this fear onto my daughters. There needs to be a zero tolerance attitude towards violence against women and girls.

“My thoughts are with the eight women who have been killed here in the past year. Enough is enough, it’s time we moved this forward.”

All parties offered Councillor Durkan their full support before the motion passed unanimously.

 

Gillian Anderson

Local Democracy Reporter