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Dublin Rape Crisis Centre calls for greater recognition of the prevalence of rape.

The Sexual Offences Bill 2015, which was near completion when the Dáil was dissolved, should be a priority for the new Government according to the incoming CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

Speaking at WOMANKIND,  a fundraising lunch for the Centre, chaired by broadcaster Claire Byrne, Noeline Blackwell was attending her first public function as CEO of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

Referring to the Central Statistics Office figures issued last week, showing an increase in the number of reported rapes and sexual assaults in 2015, Ms. Blackwell said that the experience of those who work in the DRCC with victims of sexual violence is that many who contact the Centre for help find it hard to even admit that the sexual violence occurred, let alone report it to the Gardaí.  Many of those who are helped by the Centre through telephone counselling or therapy work are only coming to terms as adults with childhood sexual abuse. ”This is the most intimate of crimes” she said “where acknowledgement of the crime, let alone reporting, will often change important relationships in the home or in the workplace. Reporting the abuse is often not supported in a person’s community. There seems to be some kind of stigma associated with general discussions of sexual abuse and rape. This secrecy contributes to the continuance of these violent crimes which can cause immense, long term hurt and damage.”

Ms. Blackwell highlighted the importance of a strong justice framework along with adequate supports for the victims of sexual violence and crime. She said: “The Sexual Offences Bill 2015 was very near completion when the Oireachtas was dissolved. Dublin Rape Crisis Centre will be hoping that it will be picked up and completed as a priority when legislative business resumes. Important initiatives under a Council of Europe treaty to reduce gender based and domestic violence also await the appointment of a new government. “

 In the meantime, Ms. Blackwell said that the Centre was continuing to operate its national 24-hour helpline and providing counselling therapy for the victims of rape and sexual abuse. It continues to promote its popular #AskConsent campaign which aims to increase awareness of what full consent means.

Dublin Rape Crisis Chairperson, Ann Marie Gill, welcoming Ms. Blackwell to her post on behalf of the Board, paid tribute to former  CEO Ellen O’Malley Dunlop and the work undertaken by the staff and volunteers of the Centre. Ms Gill said ‘Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has had several tough years of trying to maintain its high quality contributions to policy and services through the recession. Though funding in our crucial work has been cut in line with other public services, thanks to the commitment of staff and dedicated volunteers, the service is continuing. There must be recognition of the need for sufficient resources if we are to properly support those we support as well as to work to reduce the prevalence of these crimes.’


Editors notes:

  1. Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is a non-governmental organisation offering a wide range of services to women and men who are affected by rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment or childhood sexual abuse. The services include a national 24-hour helpline, one to one counselling, court accompaniment, outreach services, training, awareness raising and lobbying. Its office is at 70 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.
  2. The national 24-hour helpline number is 1800 77 88 88
  3. Noeline Blackwell is CEO of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre since 14 March 2016. She was Director General of FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) from 2005 to February 2016.
  4. WOMANKIND, a lunch and fashion show in aid of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, takes place in The Intercontinental Hotel, formerly the Four Seasons Hotel, Simmonscourt Road, Dublin 4 on Friday 8th of April 2016. The event is organised by Pluto Event & Marketing Solutions (www.pluto.ie) pro-bono as a benefit for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre with all of the proceeds going to the Centre. Claire Byrne, broadcaster is also providing her time on a voluntary basis.
  5. The Central Statistics Office figures on crime In 2015 showed that the number of sexual offences recorded rose to 2,361 an increase of 15.0% over 2014.. Rape of a male or female offences increased by 12.6% to 536 recorded offences, while sexual assault (not aggravated) offences increased by 14.1% to 1,447. Other sexual offences rose by 40.8% to 214. Figures can be accessed at http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/rc/recordedcrimequarter42015/.

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