Transforming Responses to Domestic Violence in a Politically Contested Environment: The Case of Northern Ireland


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Abstract: Domestic violence is a global phenomenon, but it takes on specific modalities in different cultural and geo-political settings. Drawing on evidence from the Northern Irish case, this article is concerned with exploring the relationship between domestic violence and the international and national sociopolitical context which domestic violence is perpetrated in and responded to. The Northern Irish case reveals a high level of political, religious and ethnic contestation at a societal level, a patriarchal social structure and conservative attitudes, each of which influence experiences of and responses to domestic violence. These factors exist alongside a number of groundbreaking changes to the overall political context and to domestic violence policies in Northern Ireland. This article seeks to explore the impact of these sociopolitical factors and changes on patterns of domestic violence in Northern Ireland over the last thirty years. The article is concerned with identifying how domestic violence responses are shaped by the sociopolitical context, what progress has been made in policy responses to domestic violence and the gaps that remain.

Keywords: gender, conflict, political settlements

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