DWDVS continues 'Sixteen Days of Action'

DWDVS continues 'Sixteen Days of Action'

DWDVS continues 'Sixteen Days of Action'

Mairad N Mhaonaigh of Altan, Donegal Person of the Year, is expected to launch the National Balloon Action in Solidarity with Women Living with Domestic Violence later this month.

The launch had been set for this morning in Letterkenny, but has been postponed due to the weather.

The local balloon action will be part of a nationwide solidarity campaign that is designed to highlight the levels of domestic violence against women in Ireland. In the launch, groups of five balloons, four black and a single white balloon bearing the logo of the organisation One in Five, will represent the number of women who live with domestic violence in this country.

The action is also part of the international campaign 16 Days of Action Against Violence Against Women, a time in the year that was chosen, in part, for its symbolism. The 16 days include UN Day Opposing Violence Against Women (November 25) and Human Rights Day (December 10), and are intended to symbolise the link between violence against women and human rights abuses. Also included in the 16-day period are International Human Rights Defenders Day (November 29), World Aids Day (December 1) and the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre (December 6), when 16 women were systematically killed in 1989 by a gunman who roamed the halls of l'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.

The statistics for Ireland are alarming: One in five women in Ireland have experienced domestic violence by a partner or ex-partner. According to Women's Aid, Dublin, since 1996, 166 women have been murdered in the Irish republic and in 51 percent of the resolved cases, the woman was killed by her partner or ex-partner.

Locally, in 2009 the Donegal Women's Domestic Violence Service received 2,234 calls to its helpline, accommodated 27 women and 37 children and had 557 individual outreach appointments throughout the county.



Donegal Women's Domestic Violence Service launched its first ever white ribbon campaign in Letterkenny late last month, as part of its local 16 Days of Action programme. As part of the campaign, launched on November 26, the service was asking men to wear a white ribbon as an expression of their saying no to violence against women, to sign a petition at the web site, www.whiteribbon.ie and to speak out against violence against all women.

The Irish White Ribbon Campaign was also the first major national activity of The Other Half, a new, national alliance of men's and women's networks that are working together to address men's violence against women. In Ireland, the alliance is made up of Safe Ireland, Rape Crisis Network Ireland and the Men's Development Network.

"We felt it was a good way to move forward, to invite men, because they are half of the population," said Fiona Doherty, manager of the Donegal Women's Domestic Violence Service.

Fiona said that because women most often address issues of violence against women, some see the issue, by default, as "a women's issue" by many. "What we want is that men throughout Donegal will agree to be part of the campaign," she said. The response the Donegal service has received from men has been very positive, she said.

"They're very happy to support the campaign," Fiona said. "We all have brothers, fathers. Men have mothers, sisters, women they love."