PRESS RELEASE: Government urged to improve justice systems to help end rape and sexual violence.

Friday, January 20th, 2017

In a submission made today to an expert Geneva-based UN Committee, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has highlighted the low rate of reporting and prosecutions in cases of sexual violence.

Centre CEO Noeline Blackwell said ‘Our submission shows that the rate of reporting sexual violence crimes may be as low as 8%. That should be a serious concern. We need effective justice structures where victims of sexual violence can safely and confidently report and where those reports then lead to prosecution of these terrible crimes. That would benefit the whole of society.  If perpetrators are not brought to account, then they remain free to harm again”.

Calling on the government to speedily enact and implement the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, Ms. Blackwell said that the legislation had specific potential to protect young people, but the fact that it was introduced in 2015 and has not been passed yet was a problem.

Today is the final day for non-governmental organisations to make their submissions to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. The reports will form part of the evidence given to the Committee when it examines Ireland’s record on women’s rights in Geneva next month.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre also highlighted government systems which it says impede progress to ending sexual violence. According to Ms. Blackwell ‘We can’t deal effectively with sexual violence if we don’t have the facts. Ireland doesn’t collect enough facts so government ends up making decisions and policies based on too little evidence.”

In response to an issue raised by the UN Committee, the Centre says that it is “concerned that steps have not been taken to ensure adequate respect for the advancement of women through gender budgeting and equality budgeting”. It says that during austerity, budgeting became too restrictive which has resulted in disadvantage to vulnerable women and children.

Ms. Blackwell concluded “Our submission makes a total of thirteen recommendations for improvement in our laws and our processes. If the state were to implement these recommendations, we are confident that the horror of rape and other forms of sexual violence would be much less prevalent and Ireland would be a safer and more equal society.

/Ends

Spokesperson: Noeline Blackwell CEO

Editor’s Notes:
1. The submission of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre can be accessed at www.drcc.ie/ from 1pm on Friday 20 January 2017.

2. Ireland has submitted its report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Its delegation will present the report before the Committee on 15 February 2017. The Committee will base its examination on the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, on Ireland’s report and on the reports submitted by a number of non-governmental organisations including the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and the National Women’s Council of Ireland. Dublin Rape Crisis Centre contributed to the NWCI report, as well as producing its own submission.

3. Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is a non-governmental, voluntary organisation which has as its mission to prevent the harm and heal the trauma of rape and sexual violence.

4. We ask that when reporting on this topic, journalists remember that discussions on sexual violence can trigger personal trauma in those receiving the information. Where possible, please make reference to the National 24-hour helpline number 1800 77 88 88, which is run by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, for anyone who may be affected by the discussion.

5. The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre submission makes 13 recommendations as follows:
1) Conduct a thorough, comprehensive analysis of the level of sexual violence in Ireland and the public attitudes to it, in order to provide a baseline and then for regular updates.
2) Disaggregate the data collected through the Central Statistics Office, the Garda PULSE system and the Courts Service, to better determine the categories of victims of sexual violence and the types of crimes reported, prosecuted and convicted.
3) The State should advance gender and equality budgeting by clearly identifying:-
a. a minimum core to protect the rights of vulnerable women and girls;
b. the use of the maximum available resources to ensure that vulnerable women and girls are treated with dignity and respect for their human rights
c. how civil society is to effectively participate in the process.
4) The State should ensure that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 is enacted and implemented as a priority.
5) The State should consider extending the court protections proposed for children in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 to vulnerable adults.
6) A statutory definition of consent should also reform the current entirely subjective defence to rape of ‘honest belief’ which permits a full acquittal.
7) The State hould prioritise the enactment and implementation of legislation to give effect to the EU Victims Directive.
8) Within the health system: Standardise and resource SATU services to make them totally accessible to all women and girl victims of sexual violence. Train medical professionals.
9) Within the Justice system: Resource Garda Protective Unit’s country-wide. Audit all elements of the justice system, including police and court, to ensure that the rights of victims of sexual offences are adequately protected at each and every stage of the criminal justice process.
10) Restore funding to 2008 levels as an interim measure for all domestic violence and sexual violence support services.
11) Ensure that Túsla has the resources that it needs to complete its planning work and deliver a comprehensive needs based service to victims of sexual and domestic violence.
12) Prioritise the enactment and implementation of legislation to give effect to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015, criminalising the purchase of sex in Ireland and providing for the decriminalisation of those involved in prostitution.
13) The State should incorporate awareness and prevention programmes relating to sexual violence into already established school programmes and should ensure frontline workers working with vulnerable young women and girls are adequately trained in how to pass such education on to those outside the formal education system.

< Back to Media