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Chloe Ní Ghríofa - Laurel Hill Colaiste FCJ, Co. Limerick

The murder of Ashling Murphy in January 2022 elicited a nationwide debate about the culture of violence against women in Ireland. Dr Monica O’Connor, UCD, maintains that although there have been major strides towards ending the “legal impunity” of violence against women, wider societal and cultural change is taking longer. In this essay, I will discuss my reasons why I think wider societal and cultural change is taking longer and what needs to be done to eradicate the culture of violence against women.

Gender stereotypes and clichés are a very common cause of gender-based violence. The media has altered views through representing gender unrealistically and inaccurately. Creating a set-image of “masculinity” or “femininity” has led to the image being normalised in society. Dominance, power, and strength are seen as masculine traits, but qualities such as submissiveness, passiveness, and indulgence are assigned feminine traits. These extremely patriarchal, sexist views of society legitimise violence to ensure the superiority, dominance, and power of men. These typical stereotypes are dangerous as they can make men feel as though they are in control, that they have more power over women and can make both parties in a situation feel as though the woman is weaker than the man and incapable of defending herself or speaking out, making it more likely that violence will occur against women. An example of this misrepresentation done by the media is a recent article from the BBC written about New Zealand’s former prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. While the headline has since been changed due to backlash from the public, the original headline read: “Jacinda Ardern resigns: Can women really have it all?” This is an example of blatant sexism by the media as they questioned women's capability of being a leader while being a mother, whereas for Jacinda Ardern’s replacement, Chris Hipkins, who also has kids of his own, no similar headlines were written. This shows how the media has created a perception of the role of caring for children to be a mother’s job and not a father’s and that a woman with children could never handle having an important job of her own. I personally feel as though it is ridiculous of the BBC to question Ms. Ardern’s capability considering she effectively led her country through a global pandemic and other difficult tragedies, such as the Christchurch Mosque shootings that occurred on the fifteenth of March 2019.

Another cause of gender-based violence is sexist religious and historical traditions. According to biblical narratives from Abraham, Israel was indubitably and undeniably a patriarchal society; the family structures and marriages from that time have shown that. women were largely seen merely as commodities for men to use for their own benefit. In Jewish legends, the main characters are always male, while women, along with animals and land, were possessions of these men. Even the most important women in biblical literature such as Miriam, the sister of Moses, and Sarah, the wife of Abraham, had very minor roles. Even the way they were referred to, “sister of Moses,” “wife of Abraham,” indicates that they were possessions of these men, as if they were objects these men had complete control over. Even in our own Irish culture, surnames in Irish show that the family members were possessions of “the man of the family,” for example, Miss Casey in Irish is “Iníon Ní Chathasaigh”, which literally translates to “daughter of Casey”, and Mrs O’Donnell would be “Bean Uí Dhomhnaill”, which directly translates to “wife of Donnell”. This shows, along with the media distorting the meanings of masculinity and femininity, that these misogynistic ideas of women being seen as inferior to men have been in our society for centuries.

Not only does the idea of men having control over women contribute to gender-based violence, but it also contributes to the normalised acceptance and justification of it. There is a disturbing general acceptance of violence towards women as part of the public sphere. An example of this is sexual harassment in the streets, or “catcalling.” According to the HSE, “Sexual harassment is when a person engages in unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature”. Street harassment can have many effects on victims. These effects include physical effects (muscle tensions, trouble with breathing, dizziness, and nausea), emotional reactions (fear of being attacked or raped and a feeling of intrusion to their privacy), and psychological effects (problems with self-esteem, self-worth, and appearance). In the United Kingdom, the End Violence Against Women Coalition commissioned YouGov to conduct the first national poll on street harassment in 2016. They found that 85% of women between ages 18 to 27 had faced sexual harassment in public spaces and that 45% had experienced unwanted sexual touching. Despite the countless number of different studies done on the effects of “catcalling” on women and the shocking statistics, street harassment is often justified with common remarks such as “he was only being friendly” and “what was she wearing?” Although studying why street harassment is such a big problem is important to help educate people, the continued prevalence of street harassment indicates that it will remain an issue until the disgusting justification of it is put to an end.

To conclude, gender stereotypes and clichés, sexist religious and historical traditions, and the extremely common normalisation and justification of violence and harassments are just a few of the reasons why wider societal and cultural change that would accomplish an end to an end to violence towards women is taking longer. But how do we eradicate this violence towards women? One thing that could be done is empowering young girls and educating children about equality. Another thing that could be done is making street harassment punishable. By doing these things, young girls will believe they have equal opportunities as their male counterparts and will be more likely to achieve powerful roles in society, and over time street harassment will be less common, making it less normalised. This will eradicate the typical stereotype of men being superior to women, as not only would women have power and control, but women would fear the violence of men occurring less, making them less submissive and more likely to speak out and defend themselves.


Adelphi University [Webpage] ‘Sexual prejudice, Sexism and Religion’ [online]

Ahmad, N. M., Masood, R. ‘Socio-psychological implications of public harassment of women in the Capital city of Islamabad’, Sage Journals [online]:

Britannica ‘The Patriarchal Narratives’ [online]

Crushell et al. ‘Sexual Harassment under Irish Law: A guide’ [online]

The Office for National Statistics (2022) ‘Perceptions of Personal Safety and experiences of harassment, Great Britain 16th February to 22 March 2022. [online]

‘Stop Street Harassment’ [online]

HSE “Dealing with sexual harassment at work” [online]

Dr Neela Janakiramanan, “The BBC’s awful ‘have it all’ headline about Jacinda Ardern’s resignation calls for a conversation”, Women’s Agenda [online]

Eleanor Ainge Roy, Harriet Sherwood, Nazia Parveen, “Christchurch attack: suspect had white-supremacist symbols on weapons”, The Guardian [online]


Barry Murphy - St Brogan's College, Co. Cork

Every day on my walk to school, I pass an abandoned building. It is decayed, dilapidated and dangerous. Every year, it falls deeper into disrepair, and every year, there are reports of slates falling from the roof or cracks forming in the walls. These reports spark plans for renovation, and it always seems like the building will be fixed or better yet destroyed and rebuilt. However, once time passes, people forget, motivation dwindles, and these plans are soon forgotten while the building remains dark, derelict, and deadly. I believe this building reflects Ireland’s societal and cultural attitudes towards violence against women. While there have been major strides towards ending legal impunity, wider cultural and societal change is taking much longer. This is because, unlike laws, changing a society's culture requires a sustained effort to challenge beliefs, behaviours and attitudes that have existed for centuries. Eradicating this issue will require a multifaceted approach that includes education, a shift in media portrayal and greater representation of women across society.

The murder of Ashling Murphy in January 2022 came as a massive shock to many people, but to others, it was yet another tragic reminder of the ongoing issue of violence against women in Ireland. There is a well-established history of mistreatment of women in Ireland as well as a culture of violence against women, and yet I as a 5th year student know little to nothing about it. You cannot solve a problem without acknowledging its existence. Yet the first time the subject was broached was after Ashling's murder. Apart from a few timid conversations about consent, the hours I spent in Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Religion (the sole purpose of which is discussion and debate) were an opportunity largely wasted. It has now been over a year, and that discussion remains the only mention of gender-based violence in school. Much like the metaphorical building, it seems Ashling and this issue has been forgotten.

This shows that when it comes to the issue of violence against women the Irish education system is reactive rather than proactive. Given this, the sluggish pace of societal and cultural change is hardly surprising. Young people should be the enactors of change in society, and yet the horrific case of Anna Kriegel as well as numerous other crimes by teenagers in the past decade indicate they are part of the problem. Instead of ending this cultural and societal problem, the next generation is perpetuating the cycle. To prevent and eradicate this culture of violence, heavy emphasis on GBV must be placed on the curriculum of SPHE and Religion. This will raise awareness and change beliefs behaviors and attitudes towards women. Great progress has been made in mental health and sexuality in the education system of late, and I think the same model of open discussions and increasing awareness could be applied to eradicate the culture of violence against women.

This month Andrew Tate was arrested on charges of rape and human trafficking. Tate is a former kick boxer turned influencer who gained notoriety on TikTok. He makes statements like rape victims need to “bear responsibility” for their actions and “females are the ultimate status symbol.” People like Andrew Tate are ubiquitous on social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube. They spew out misogyny and disinformation to their viewers, most of which are between the ages of 10 to 15. These boys are young and impressionable, incapable of discerning fact from fiction, consequently they internalise these messages. This is why discussions in school are so important to combat this culture of violence against women. Otherwise, young boy's views on women are formed by extremists on the internet.

Another factor contributing to the slow pace of change is media coverage of violence against women. By media, I mean the incessant barrage of serial killer documentaries, films and tv series that normalize and create an atmosphere of tolerance towards violence, antisocial behaviors and objectification of women. True crime documentaries have seen a surge in popularity recently. These documentaries focus on the killers and largely ignore their victims dehumanizing them. The plot of one of the most popular movies of 2020, “365 Days”, was of a woman getting kidnapped and held hostage by a man trying to make her fall in love with him. A Netflix original called “You” revolves around a protagonist who stalks and kills multiple women, yet he comes off as misunderstood, and you almost empathize with him. Some may dismiss this point as these are works of fiction made to entertain. However, studies have found that “media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behaviour in both immediate and long-term contexts”-The influence of media violence on youth 2003. I am not saying that violence has no place in films and tv series however, it shouldn’t make it seem normal or acceptable.

Gender-based violence is rooted in gender inequality, it reflects and reinforces inequalities between women and men. While Ireland is a progressive country, it is still by no means equal. Women are underrepresented in politics, the media and in senior managerial positions. Ireland also has a 22% gender pay gap. This all feeds into the perception that women are inferior to men. While these disparities between men and women persist, so will this culture of violence.

Amongst the random assortment of graffiti on the building pictured below is a quote “Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them” The overarching theme of this essay has been education and awareness; however, the education system alone cannot be expected to solve this cultural issue. Eradicating violence against women will take a prolonged and concerted effort from all members, companies and institutions of our society.



Elsa Forrest - Ashton Achool, Co. Cork

There is a pandemic that you don’t hear about often. This pandemic has been killing women for thousands of years. Annually, it claims the lives of 66,000 women; millions more are seriously injured. It can’t be prevented through vaccines and social distancing. Eradicating it is much more difficult; it runs so deep. It’s in our education system, in our healthcare and legal systems. It’s on the streets, in the mouths of men we’ve never met before and in the fists of the men we’ve known for years. It’s in the stereotypes that tell women what to wear, how to talk, how to act, and it’s in them being hurt if they don’t comply to said stereotypes. This pandemic is gender-based violence, and we must end it now.

In this article I will explore some reasons why change is so slow in our society and what we must do to end this deep-rooted culture of violence and misogyny.

Undoubtedly, the first step in ending domestic, sexual gender-based violence (DSGBV) is recognising that it is far more common than we’d like to believe. According to a report by Women’s Aid, 1 in 5 women who’ve been in a relationship have been abused by a partner. 1 in 3 women worldwide have faced physical or sexual violence. That is over 1.3 billion women. Violence against women is everywhere. So ask yourself, why is change taking so long?

Firstly, for our society to evolve further, our laws and governments must evolve with us. However, those in high-power positions don’t want to change; it’ll cost them. Our leaders will have to shake things up, make decisions that won’t resonate well with their conservative supporters, spend money and spend time. Having someone who not only recognises the difficulties faced by women but lives them is essential in order for wider societal change to be achieved. To have a larger population of women in political positions, we must change how we treat women in male dominated fields. We must stop treating them as inadequate to their male counterparts and encourage education through scholarships and programmes that allow them to achieve their full potential. A more diverse government will lead to more legislation being put in place that will support a wider cultural shift in how we treat women. Legislation alone won’t end DSGBV, but having laws that support women will discourage potential offenders, help women feel safer to call out violence and pursue justice and will support a larger shift in how women are treated.

Secondly, the everyday person is so used to living in this misogynistic society that they have accepted it as a given, not a crime. We must realise change won’t happen unless we fight for it and unless we change our mindsets. It won’t be an easy task, and many of us aren’t ready to give up our blindly comfortable lives, but it’s the only way for us to achieve the change we so desperately need.

Our children are our future. Their brains haven’t yet been poisoned by harmful stereotypes and hateful thoughts. Naturally, prevention of misogyny begins with them and their education. The No Means No campaign is a wonderful example of how effective education is in ending DSGBV. No Means No teaches girls self-defence techniques and teaches boys to oppose rape myths and always look for consent. The 12-hour programme has led to a 50% decrease in cases of sexual assault of girls who took part, and ¾ of the boys educated in the course have also intervened in an assault of a woman. Programmes like No Means No have proven to be highly successful in teaching our children about DSGBV, but education starts in the home. It starts with parents, siblings and friends. It starts with you. We have a responsibility to be the change our children need to see. We must teach them how pornography reinforces harmful stereotypes about sex and portrays men as ‘dominant’ and women as sex objects. We must teach them to always seek consent and never to feel pressured into giving it. We must teach our girls to fight back and teach our boys not to give them a reason to fight at all.

“You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.” Elizabeth O’Connell SC allegedly stated during the rape trial of a Cork woman in 2018. Our treatment of victims/survivors is one of the primary reasons DSGBV remains such a prevalent issue in our society. Their abuse is often downplayed or downright ignored by the courts and the public. Two-thirds of rapes go unreported, only 1 in 5 accused of domestic violence are charged. I’ll tell you why. The road to justice is invasive, invalidating and often inaccessible. Our courts must strive to deliver justice, without harming the victim further. This can be done by providing accessible therapy, legal help and healthcare to survivors. Providing safe escape routes for women in the prostitution industry and putting laws in place that protect women in the courtroom and in everyday life is essential. Even with a better legal system, violence against women won't ever go away if we don’t do our utmost to stand up for any woman who is brave enough to speak up from being blamed and shamed. We must take personal responsibility when it comes to empowering survivors. We must listen to them and let them feel heard. If the direly needed change is implemented, we can raise the number of rapists prosecuted from 1.3%, lower the number of women abused by partners from an appalling 1 in 3, bring all offenders to justice and give survivors peace of mind

This article only touched on how to change our deeply, generationally misogynistic society. It won’t be easy or fast, but the sooner we start the better. We can make it happen, and someday we’ll live in a world where women don’t just survive, we live.