Although Ireland repealed the 8th amendment, there’s still more to be done to progress women’s and people with uterus’s rights, with two high profile abhorrent rape cases this year in which the victims not only did not get justice, but were degraded, victim blamed, and forced to endure trails just as traumatising as what brought them to court in the first place.
After legalising same-sex marriage, and abortion by popular vote the outside world seemed to look to Ireland as a progressive utopia, but on the ground it feels very different. While a privileged country – we are lucky to have our fundamental human rights, women have the right to vote, work, and get an education. There are parts of the world in which women and girls are still seen as second class citizens and have no rights, autonomy, or freedom.
However, it seems that Ireland still hates women.
Cases like the ones this year and the hundreds we didn’t hear about, deter victims from coming forward, because if you get to court it means your personal life, sexual history, and even underwear will be scrutinized, judged, and used against you. This doesn’t mean victims shouldn’t come forward – please report these crimes. It means that there needs to be change, and the only reassuring thing from the most recent case – is that people aren’t standing for it anymore. Not only Ireland, but the world shook with rage in response to a 17 year old girl being told her asked to be raped because she just so happened to be wearing a thong the night of her attack. My heart breaks for the 17-year old girl from Cork, but I hope the fact that we are angry for her and standing up for her brings some comfort.
The pressure is already mounting for judicial change, and with that hopefully comes stronger sentences, the burden of proof to be on the defendant, and as suggested after what became known as “the Ulster rugby trial” the option for victims to pre-record their statements so they don’t have to face their abuser in court.
What’s been on the back burner has been that Bunreacht na hÉireann still says mothers – and be extension women – belong in the home.
Article 41.2.1 of the Irish Constitution reads:
"The State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home."
This roughly translates to: stay in the kitchen.
More concerning is there was a referendum scheduled for October which was postponed.
The media was almost silent about it. I spent my summer contacting not only the Irish media but also parties and politicians, and disappointing even the most pro-repeal and active groups didn’t care that much. No one cared. This passage is firstly a baseless one as countless mothers’ work, not because they want to, but because they have to, however the larger issue with Article 41.2.1 is that it suggests that women belong in the home, and that raising and having children is solely their role. Although the Marriage Ban has been lifted, this echo’s its sentiment.
We have come far over the past century, despite living in a state burdened by a history of the suffering of women and children in Mother & Baby Homes, the Marriage Ban, and only having the right to vote for 100 years (which also only extended to upper class women), no more will we settle for the lack of respect we were historically subjected to.
Globally women have been rising up and protesting injustice, discrimination, and abuse, most notably within the #metoo movement, which combatted sexual assault and harassment.
We do not belong in the kitchen.
Ní Saoirse go Saoirse na mBan.