Women aged between 15 and 44 years are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined, according to Jacqui Armstrong, the local Mothers’ Union’s Faith and Policy coordinator.
Ms Armstrong made the comments during a prayer vigil to highlight gender-based violence in St Columb’s Cathedral on Saturday.
The event was organised by Derry and Raphoe Mothers’ Union as part of its ‘16 Days of Activism’ campaign and was supported by women from across the community.
It was one of fifteen vigils being held simultaneously in the twelve dioceses of the Church of Ireland to highlight the issue of gender violence locally, nationally and internationally.
The vigil was addressed by Mary Good, who talked about the work of International Justice Mission, and Marie Brown of Women’s Aid.
Ms Brown said the PSNI responded on average to one incident of domestic abuse every 19 minutes in Northern Ireland – that meant five incidents over the course of Saturday’s vigil.
Mrs Good said violence against women and girls was one of the most prevalent human rights abuses in the world, knowing no social, economic or national boundaries. She said it was estimated that one in three women around the world could expect to experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime.
Jacqui Armstrong, the local Mothers’ Union’s Faith and Policy coordinator, told those present that gender violence affected women disproportionately.
She said half of women murdered in 2012 were killed by a partner, former partner or family member, compared to one in 20 men.
Ms Armstrong said it was difficult to gauge the extent of gender violence because it often went unspoken, unreported and unacknowledged. However, globally, women between 15 and 44 years of age were more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.
Mothers’ Union hopes its 16 Days of Activism campaign will raise awareness of the issue and pressurise governments into taking action.
Those present at Saturday’s vigil stood for a minute’s silence in memory of women and girls throughout Ireland who had lost their lives as a result of gender violence. The vigil closed with the presentation of donations for Derry Women’s Aid and Letterkenny Women’s Refuge.