AuthorYeung, Anthea

    The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have brought significant global attention to the issues of sexual harassment and violence.' Both social movements have encouraged women to speak up while simultaneously mobilizing legislative changes in areas historically neglected or ignored. (2) However, despite the #MeToo movement's success in advocating against gender-based violence, it has neglected conversations regarding intimate partner violence. (3) Similar to the effects that #MeToo and #TimesUp had to workplace sexual harassment, society needs to address domestic violence by calling for increased protection and other appropriate remedies. (4)

    The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported that, "in the United States, an average of 20 people experience intimate partner physical violence every minute." (5) As of March 2020, the United States has failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which expired at the end of 2018. (6) The expiration of VAWA has generated increasing concern from financial cuts to programs, while simultaneously encouraged Congress to consider strengthening the criminalization of domestic violence in order to better protect victims. (7) Meanwhile, member states of the European Union, such as the Republic of Ireland, have been pushing for the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). (8) While Ireland has the newly enacted Domestic Violence Act 2018 to further its commitment to eradicate violence in intimate relationships, the United States has fallen behind by allowing its own legislation to expire. (9)

    This Note will compare Ireland's commitment to eradicating domestic violence with the United States' as both countries continue to implement new polices against intimate partner violence. (10) Part II of this Note will provide a historical overview of how both countries, with very similar worldviews, have developed laws against domestic violence. (11) Part III will explain the current situation within each country and how each country has taken progressive steps in preventing domestic violence. (12) While distinguishing from Ireland's legislation and commitment to its international community, Part IV illustrates the legal deficiencies that are still present in the VAWA Reauthorization Bill of 2019 (VAWA Reauthorization 2019). (13) In conclusion, despite the United States' efforts, Part V calls for the federal government to adopt stronger policies to end domestic violence. (14)


    1. United States Condoning Domestic Violence

      Prior to the establishment of legislative policies against intimate partner violence, the United States legal system permitted domestic violence to occur within one's familial household. (15) Police officers responding to domestic disturbance calls acted as mediators and counselors because intimate partner violence was perceived as private familial disputes. (16) A shift in the United States occurred when civil rights and feminist liberation movements began challenging the country's failure to prosecute rape and wife abuse. (17) Following the ongoing pressures from feminist social movements, Congress formally recognized that domestic violence was a "national epidemic" when it passed VAWA in 1994. (18)

      1. Privatization of Domestic Violence

        Historically, the law permitted husbands to abuse their wives. (19) Ancient Rome's Laws of Chastisement only prohibited a husband from permanently injuring his wife. (20) Although the Law of Chastisement received vicious criticism up until the nineteenth century, husbands still maintained legal authority over their wives' bodies. (21) As a result, wives were considered legal property to their husbands. (22)

      2. Psychological legal theories and crisis intervention

        Around the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the rise of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis theory argued that women, who were irrational and the inferior sex, brought violence onto themselves because of their behavior towards their husband. (23) Legal professionals embraced Freud's psychological theory by implementing it into the judicial system. (24) As a result, the early establishment of family courts sought to solve marital problems through methods of intervention and reconciliation via social services and psychotherapy. (25)

        Crisis intervention programs were introduced in the late 1960s to "decrease the number of felony arrests and increase the number of family disputes settled by officer mediation." (26) Legal experts and social services agencies recommended that officers avoid arrests unless absolutely necessary. (27) Prosecutors and judges deemed arrests as a "last resort" solution for domestic violence disturbances because arrests failed to deter future violence from reoccurring. (28)

      3. Social Movements Sparking Legislative Changes

        The rise of feminist social movements, such as the battered women's movement in the 1970's, challenged familial patriarchy and the country's legitimization of female oppression. (29) The battered women's movement led to the implementation of safe houses and services, educational programs, and legal remedies. (30) More significantly, the movement unified the victims voices advocating for improved law enforcement measures and judicial policies. (31) Although these movements presented a strong social presence within the immediate local community, social movements were fighting to be heard by the federal government. (32)

        The establishment of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) in 1978 unified women's rights advocates, pressured the federal government to reform domestic violence legislation and fund services. (33) Additionally, legislators in Congress introduced the Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Treatment Act to improve systematic protection for victims of domestic violence. (34) Unfortunately, neither bill passed. (35)

      4. Establishing a National Commitment to End Domestic Violence

        The establishment of the VAWA in 1994 signalled a federal commitment to prevent domestic violence. (36) VAWA was a federal effort to unify the judicial system, social services organizations, and advocacy groups in order to provide adequate protection to domestic violence victims. (37) The legislation granted federal courts the jurisdiction to hear criminal cases when domestic violence or violation of protection orders occurred across state lines. (38)

    2. Evolution of Gender Equality in Ireland

      The war for independence in the Republic of Ireland provided an opportunity for women to fight alongside men in the war. (39) Following Ireland's victory against Britain, the framers of the Constitution of the Irish Free State (Saorstdt Eireann) showed promise in guaranteeing women equal rights. (40) However, Ireland's new 1937 Constitution, which was heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, severely limited the legal rights of women, restricting them to duties of "housework, childbearing, and child rearing." (41) The enactment of Ireland's 1937 Constitution domesticated Irish women and restricted their ambitions to raising a family and housekeeping. (42)

    3. Birth of Ireland's Domestic Violence Act

      In 1976, Ireland enacted the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976, "and introduced the remedy of the barring order." (43) This act was amended in 1981 to include protective orders and extended the period of barring orders. (44) Although the Family Law (Protection of Spouses and Children Act) 1981 (1981 Act) provided additional remedies to domestic violence victims, these remedies were restricted to wives and children who resided with their abusive husbands. (45) In the 1990s, the 1981 Act was replaced by the Domestic Violence Act 1996 to rectify the restrictions that left many victims vulnerable to domestic violence, which included requiring victims to remain in the same households as their abusive husbands to ensure that they receive the mandated remedies. (46)

      Since the original enactment of the Domestic Violence Act 1996, the legislation was amended in 2002 to address procedural difficulties. (47) The Domestic Violence Bill 2017 was introduced shortly after Ireland signed the Istanbul Convention. (48) The Domestic Violence Bill 2017 was signed into law on May 8, 2018. (49)

    4. International Communities Against Domestic Violence

      Traditionally, domestic violence was regarded as a "'private,' 'natural,' or 'cultural'" issue, rather than a human rights violation. (30) However, domestic violence is a universal issue that requires international attention. (51) More importantly, the United Nations recognized violence against women as a social manifestation of gender inequality that has deprived women from participating in society. (52) Today, various international human rights treaties have been established with the goal of ending violence against women. (53)

      1. The United Nations

        In 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an aspirational human rights convention that mandated state members to implement domestic policies against gendered-based violence. (54) In order for CEDAW to remain effective, party members are required to submit reports to the CEDAW Committee to ensure each state is still in compliance with the treaty. (55) Although CEDAW does not contain any explicit language prohibiting domestic violence, the CEDAW Committee adopted the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Recommendation Number 19), which allowed the Committee to monitor genderbased violence amongst its members. (56) More significantly, Recommendation Number 19 was the first international treaty recognizing violence against women. (57)

      2. The European Union

        In order to address violence against women in Europe, "[i]n December 2008, the...

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