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Press Statement

Embargoed 11th February 2003 

Women’s Aid concerned at increase in brutal crimes against women. 


Reported incidents this week have again brutally illustrated that violence against women is at a horrifying level.  

Northern Ireland Women's Aid Federation extends its sympathy to the family of Catrina Baird, who was shot dead yesterday in County Antrim in what appears to be a domestic murder. We have also seen the death of mother of two, Jillian Doherty from Coleraine, in what also appears to be a domestic murder just 12 days ago. 

Anne Graham, of NI Women’s Aid said 

“ Catrina’s murder yesterday is part of an emerging pattern of domestic murders which needs to be highlighted and addressed by the whole community.

For too long in Northern Ireland we have had to focus attention on sectarian violence while families have endured fear and abuse in their own homes.  It is time for everyone to respond strongly to overcome the effects of domestic violence and to make homes a place of safety and peace. “ 

Women’s Aid calls for the Government to continue to show leadership in relation to current policies to tackle domestic violence. Strategies need to be put in place so that all agencies work towards protecting families and providing support services. Women need to be fully protected by both legislation and the criminal justice system and to feel the support of the public’s condemnation and rejection domestic violence. 

The impact of domestic violence on the lives of women can result in homelessness, protracted health problems – mental and physical due to repeated threatened and actual emotional, sexual and physical abuse, hospitalisation and at its most extreme death. The impact of domestic violence on children either witnessing or being subject to domestic violence is extremely detrimental.  

Women’s Aid has been working to eliminate domestic violence in Northern Ireland for over twenty years. They have developed a range of support services for women, young people and children living with and surviving domestic violence which include the 24 hour Helpline; outreach services in the community; drop in centres; support services for children and young people and training and awareness raising. For women and their children who have to leave their home, Women’s Aid provide refuge accommodation and aftercare support services.

The Women’s Aid 24 hour Helpline number is 028 90331818. Women can call the Helpline for assistance and support and the Helpline can direct women to Women’s Aid groups in their own locality where they can avail of a range of support services for themselves and their children.  

Notes to editors 

·         The British Crime Survey indicates that 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. It cuts across class, age, religion and ethnic group. It is most commonly perpetrated by men against women. These men tend to be current or previous partners. 

·         The Women’s Aid 24 hour Helpline received 15,640 calls last year relating to physical and emotional abuse of women in their homes. This is an alarming 15% increase on last year’s figure. 

·         The helpline responded to a total of 60,685 calls since 1995. 

·         Women’s Aid has accommodated 11,082 women and 16,986 children in refuges in Northern Ireland since 1989. 

·         Last year the PSNI responded to over 14,000 domestic incidents.