Charity calls for updated research into sexual abuse in Ireland

The last in-depth study was completed fifteen years ago

Charity calls for updated research into sexual abuse in Ireland

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO Noeline Blackwell at the launch of the organisation’s Annual Report in Dublin, 04-10-2017. Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews

There are calls for a large research project to be carried out into sexual abuse in Ireland.

The last in-depth study was completed fifteen years ago.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) says it has seen an increase in the reporting of sexual assaults over the past few weeks, following a number of high profile controversies.

In 2002, the ground breaking SAVI report into sexual abuse in Ireland was published – however, nothing like it has been carried out in the time since.

Updated data

The DRCC has warned that the country has changed a lot over the past 15 years – with the introduction of social media, an increase in same sex couples, different cultures and a different economy.

The centre’s CEO Noeline Blackwell warned that it is essential to have up-to-date figures on sexual crimes.

“The trouble is we have been trying to identify how best to combat sexual violence without modern data,” she said.

“It is not even that it is not up-to-date – it is just antiquated.

Sexual allegations

Over the past few weeks there have been a number of high profile sexual allegations reported in the media from Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey.

Here at home - the sentencing of former Irish Times journalist Tom Humphries for grooming and sexually abusing a teenage girl - drew a lot of controversy.

Ms Blackwell says it’s all having an impact:

“The day after the Tom Humphries sentencing, the number of calls to our helpline doubled,” she said.

“The #MeToo and the Weinstein – before that other issues as well – all led to a situation where [...] it is like a sluice gate opening in a dam.”

Government support

The in-depth study would cost around one million euro to carry out, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has already said she’d support it.

Tánaiste Francis Fitzgerald has indicated the same.

“Government will address this I am sure,” she said. “We do need comprehensive research.”

“We see increasing levels of sexual violence, of harassment of growth in pornography and I think it is important that we have an overall look from a research point of view of the kind of evidence that is out there.”

The DRCC has said that until such a study is carried out - the Government is working off patchy and ineffective data.