Earlier this week, the Department of Justice launched Zero Tolerance, the third national strategy on domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence (DSGBV). This is a five-year strategy, which is to be expanded and detailed in a series of implementation plans. The first implementation plan was published simultaneously with the strategy and covers the period from now until the end of 2023.
As noted on a number of occasions in recent EMN Ireland Annual Reports on Migration and Asylum, as well as a recent ESRI report on housing and family among migrants in the 2016 census, migrants are a vulnerable group among survivors of domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence. This is particularly true for those with limited access to public services and supports, such as undocumented migrants, or those whose immigration status or ability to remain in the State is dependent on the perpetrator of that violence. (Note that Immigration Service Delivery has set out guidelines for individuals in the latter situation, designed to allow domestic violence survivors to attain independent immigration permission.)
Significantly, the Zero Tolerance strategy explicitly acknowledges the additional challenges faced by certain groups of survivors of domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence, including migrants, Travellers and Roma, people with disabilities, and LGBTI+ people. It understands these challenges to be intersectional, meaning that multiple forms of vulnerability, marginalisation, and discrimination can compound to create heightened and additional risk factors. The strategy also focuses more completely and intentionally than previous iterations on children as both witnesses and survivors of DSGBV and the need to protect children in these situations.
The strategy includes a number of specific actions to ensure that the intersectional needs of these communities are met. These include requiring all those involved in implementing the strategy to consider issues of access for these groups, including representatives from the relevant communities in cultural awareness training, establishing an Access Committee made up of individuals from each of these groups to advise implementing bodies, and creating an Access Fund to involve vulnerable and socially excluded communities in designing and implementing actions for the strategy.
The implementation plan includes the creation of material specifically designed to communicate information about DSGBV and relevant support services to migrant communities. This includes education and awareness programmes and materials reassuring migrant survivors (including undocumented migrants) that they will be protected and provided with support services. The implementation plan also includes the intent to establish a group tasked with advising on all actions in terms of intersectionality and inclusivity.
For more information, see:
Department of Justice Zero Tolerance website, including the texts of both the strategy and implementation plan
Department of Justice press release
2011 Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (also called the Istanbul Convention)