SEANAD TO DEBATE JUDICIAL SENTENCING IN AUTUMN FOLLOWING SENATOR DALY’S CALL FOR CHANGE

  • 69% of Irish population are unsatisfied with judicial sentencing in recent years.

 

  • Senator Daly proposes training for barristers, solicitors and members of the judiciary to understand the impact of sexual violence on victims to stop the judicial practice of handing down insufficient sentences.

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Having spoken in the Seanad twice this week on the matter of gender inequality within the Irish judiciary and the impact that it appears to be having on sentencing when it comes to sexual abuse.. The typical middle-aged, conservative male judge has held the majority for too long on the bench. This type of judge is unconsciously biased in their approach to sexual abuse, in some instances showing lack of consideration for the female victim. They pass judgment on women, victims of child abuse and minorities on a daily basis. Therefore, the Senator also proposes a gender quota for female judges be introduced as is in place for political parties, state boards and has been discussed in the area of education.

A school principal who sexually abused eleven children was given a two year sentence. A mere two years to serve despite the atrocities committed and consequential impact that his actions will have on those children’s lives. That works out as two months served per child abused. Senator Daly asks the Minister for Justice to come into the Seanad and speak about the clear faults in our judicial system and the sentences that are handed down in this regard. Whilst drug offences receive lengthy sentences, it appears that sexual offences are not worthy of same, according to the private-schooled, middle aged male who sits on the bench. These judges and perpetrator’s legal teams use phrases defending perpetrators such as ‘out of character’, ‘respectable background’ and ‘good family’ as an excuse for an inexcusable crime. It is no surprise, then, that 69% of the Irish population are unsatisfied with our sentencing in recent years.  The proposed training would enable judges and legal representatives alike to understand the horrifying impacts that these offences have on the victims. The debate on judicial sentencing, due to take place this Autumn in the Seanad is well over-due, and as Senator Daly put it ‘a sheer necessity’.

The example of the case of a 17 year old girl, sexually assaulted with her perpetrator admitting to the crime yet still getting zero jail time. This shows exactly what’s wrong with the current system. The senate’s debate on judicial sentencing scheduled to happen in Autumn as a result of a no prison sentence being handed down for rape is a positive step in the right direction. A lack of consideration for the victim(s) is at the core of past rulings. The comments ‘good background’ and the likes just show the stereotypical male, middle-aged, conservative attitude that the judiciary had in this regard. A mere 12.5% of the Supreme Court’s judiciary are women. A larger female presence, training for all and, at the very least, a debate in the Seanad is necessary; we need to empathise with these victims and conquer the unfair bias that is evident in our justice system.

 

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