We awoke today to the harrowing news of the murder of 30 year old Nadine Lott. A man has been arrested in connection with the murder. This brings to 6 the number of women murdered in Ireland so far in 2019.
It is a sobering fact that the most dangerous place for a woman is in her own home.
Since 1993, 230 women have been killed in Ireland. 1 in 10 of these women were killed in their homes, by someone known to them. Last year, 19,089 contacts were made with Women’s Aid. This does not even accurately reflect the real numbers, as we know that the greater number of women do not actually report their abuse.
There is no doubt that Irish society is failing women, along with the children who grow up bearing witness to this abuse.
Our government fails women with the cuts they’ve made to domestic violence refuges and to Women’s Aid. The rape crisis centre has shockingly had its funding cut in half over the last decade.
The government fails women through lower wages, lower pensions, locking in women’s economic reliance on male partners.
They fail women by allowing the housing crisis to continue- forcing many women to stay in unsafe and unhappy domestic situations, or risk homelessness.
Irish society fails women by not teaching consent in schools, by allowing the bulk of young men’s sex education to come from porn, the internet, video games, and movies.
We fail women by allowing the perpetuation of harmful gender roles- of the male breadwinner, the ‘head’ of the household, whose family is an extension of himself and his property.
We fail women by maintaining a culture of silence around domestic situations, by treating what happens in the family as a ‘private matter’, and by failing to challenge toxic, or sexist behaviour when we see it.
The media fails women by centering narratives of the ‘quiet family man’ who just ‘snapped’ , as was highlighted in 2016 after the murder of Clodagh Hawe, sparking the hashtag #hernamewasclodagh.
We took a huge step forward for the lives of women in this country, by repealing the 8th amendment in 2018.
There, we started to undo the claims staked by church and state over the bodies of women, and we must hope that this shift will be reflected in changing attitudes to women’s autonomy and freedom over the next generation.
But there is still a very long way to go.
The government can pay as much lip service as they like, but the truth is that until they fund domestic refuges and rape crisis centres, until they ensure decent and affordable housing for all, until women are paid proper wages, and good state run childcare is available, women will continue to have less economic power, leaving them vulnerable and reliant on male partners.
Nadine Lott and her daughter deserved so much better than this.