Violence Against Women and Girls

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 2 November 2021.

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Photo of Naomi Long Naomi Long Alliance 2:30, 2 November 2021

I completely agree with the Member. I know that she will have listened carefully to my answer to the first topical question. The very specific experience of direct and indirect violence that women and girls face in society is an issue that is extremely important to me and one that I have prioritised. It is for that reason that I recommended a cross-departmental violence against women and girls strategy to the Executive. The Executive Office will then take that cross-cutting issue forward, along with cross-departmental cooperation, to ensure that we support effective delivery. I will do all that I can to support the strategy.

I have raised the issue of drug spiking at the Executive. I have also asked for an update at the next Executive meeting on progress with respect to the women and girls strategy. I have also listened to victims and have been working with partners such as the PSNI on the issue of drinks being spiked and will be discussing it further with the Chief Constable when I meet him this afternoon. Again, I urge anyone who believes that their drink may have been spiked or that they may have been injected to report it to the police. The Chief Constable will update me on his work to address violence against women and girls, and, as I said, I have asked the Executive for an update later this week.

During this mandate, I have brought forward an ambitious agenda of activity to protect those most at risk of violence, including the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021, the Protection from Stalking Bill and changes to implement recommendations in the Gillen review. That has included discussions with a wide range of stakeholders. While many of the measures will affect everyone in society, they will disproportionately benefit women and girls due to the gendered nature of many of the offences.