So we get talking to a woman today, she seems incredibly proud of the civil service for whom she has worked for thirty two years. She’s been in her current post, six weeks ago, working to develop policy that tackles domestic and sexual violence in Northern Ireland. We start by talking about what she sees as the necessary, pragmatic approach to policy writing that considers the health and housing costs of said issues and crimes as well as the associated criminal justice bills:
She says, that we (the civil service) are different to lots of other organisations. We work very broadly, we are very generic, we are very inclusive…
We say, us the group of minorities representatives, that this is the problem; it won’t work if you make it general, inclusive doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t explicitly include. Your civil service is symbolic of the majority and you make well meaning if also terrible assumptions that everyone is the same, everyone is important when really the world is made up of difference and people are treated with varying degrees of importance all the time. You need to name differences, you need to identify the vulnerable, not everyone is equal.
She says, when it comes to domestic and sexual violence nothing will get done unless we talk about it as an equal issue. (I think: I’m sorry what did you say..?)
We say, that’s not true, it affects women around the world disproportionately, ethnic and sexual minorities in NI are far less likely to access support and services.
She says, I don’t understand how someone’s ethnicity or sexual orientation would stop them asking for help, they’re just people like anyone else.
Ah, We say, but the world hasn’t always had/doesn’t usually have that message about them. There are strong links between vulnerability and accessibility and if these aren’t considered or included then the policy will not be as effective.
She says, but we don’t have the time or the money to think about difference, we just want to treat everyone the same.
We say, there speaks the voice of the majority and the powerful. It has been proven by much research and much storytelling from a minority persepctive that if you consider difference, your policy and your strategies will be proven to be more effective, efficient and conclusive in ending victim experience.
She says, I didn’t realise, I thought because minorities had a hard life that they were stronger.
We say, there speaks the voice of the powerful…