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Ireland has one of the lowest murder rates of women in world

The past ten days has seen an outpouring of shock and grief in regard to the senseless murder of a beautiful and talented young teacher, Ashling Murphy, as she went for a run in Tullamore. 

While her grief-stricken family sought privacy to mourn Ashling, the dominant voices in the media were largely accusatory against Irish men, finding them collectively guilty of “toxic masculinity”, “misogyny’” and of creating a culture where murders like that in Tullamore happened.

Every homicide, whether against men or women, should act as warning that some aspect of society is dysfunctional and needs attention. But too many of the loudest voices, especially from NGOs, seem less concerned with examining violence in society and more interested in demanding attention (and funding) for their preferred programs.

A letter to the Irish Times this week, from Sarah-Anne Cleary, helped to provide some clarity on the issue. It should be read in full:

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime monitors the rates of homicide across the world. In 2019, the last year for which reasonably complete statistics are available, Ireland had the 11th lowest rate of homicide against women of the 193 UN member states.

With 0.33 homicides of women per 100,000 population, we had the lowest rate of the homicide of women in the European Union, and the third lowest on the European continent as a whole, behind Iceland and tiny Liechtenstein.

In countries such as Norway, Canada and New Zealand – often held out as nirvanas for women’s rights by NGOs and lobby groups – women die by homicide at rates of between 0.5 and 0.93 women per hundred thousand, in other words at between two and three times the rate of killing in Ireland.

These are the facts.

No level of murder is acceptable, and statistics provide no comfort when we are talking about the loss of life.

But if anybody beamed down from Mars last week and observed the media coverage of this issue, would they get the impression that the number of homicides against women in Ireland is among the lowest in the world?

On the contrary, one narrative was permitted, which is that the rates of murder, violence and sexual violence against women are completely out of control and rising exponentially, with women – all women – facing potentially mortal danger on a daily basis, and men – all men – being culpable for this.

One broadsheet daily newspaper had a front-page headline by a female writer which asked “Which of us will be next?”

What purpose does it serve to terrorise women and suggest that we should become prisoners in our own homes? What is the point of demonising all men as being responsible, and not the absolutely tiny percentage of so-called men who are the perpetrators?

And why doesn’t a single female politician or representative group have the courage to shout “stop” to this hysteria?


Cleary’s letter served as a timely caution: in order to tackle violence against women we need to be honest and transparent about its causes, its extent, and how best to deal with it.

Rates of reported rapes are rising. Calls to the gardai regarding domestic violence have also shot up. Yet most men will never harm, rape or kill a woman. Instead of allocating resources to blanket programs, including those that target school children, is it better to actually face these issues head on?

Maybe better information, real interventions and preventative programs (which might look at the common factors driving violence against both genders), and harsher jail sentences might make a difference across the board. It’s unlikely that hashtags will.

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