The true scale of female homelessness is likely to be significantly worse than official records show, as women hide to avoid being attacked, a harrowing new report reveals. Women who sleep on the street are subject to “horrendous” treatment, including sexual abuse, violence and stigmatisation – and often feel unsafe when accessing predominantly male homelessness services, according to new research .
Laura Cahillane, lecturer in Law at the University of Limerick, said the referendum was significant in the campaign to reverse the treatment of women as “second class citizens” under the current Irish constitution. “Removing it is not going to change anything in practice, but at the same time it builds upon a lot of the changes that have already been made, and I think all of that helps in terms of attitudes towards women generally. It’s another stepping stone. In this constitution in particular, women have felt like second class citizens to a certain extent because of the various things that were brought in by this particular constitution, but now a lot of stuff has been reversed. This is one of the last pieces of that puzzle.”
The letter by high profile figures from across the world of entertainment including Oprah Winfrey warns leaders they are being put “on notice” and hits out at inequality between women and men, particularly in the poorest countries of the world. “There is nowhere on earth where women have the same opportunities as men, but the gender gap is wider for women living in poverty. Poverty is sexist. And we won’t stand by while the poorest women are overlooked,” it states.
After conducting focus groups with women about their experience of committing offences in response to coercive and controlling behaviour from a partner, researchers identified strong links between women’s experience of domestic and sexual abuse and coercive relationships and their offending. They warned that this can trap women in a “vicious cycle of victimisation and criminal activity”, often exacerbated by poverty, substance dependency or poor mental health, and having a severely detrimental impact on any dependent children.