Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.11 1 Apr 2019


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There are calls for the Government to treat rape and sexual assault like an epidemic.

The latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures for 2018 showed the number of sex crimes being reported is at an all time high of over 3,000.

Reported sexual offences increased by 10.3% in the fourth quarter of last year.

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There were 298 more incidents recorded in 2018 than in 2017.

In 2017, there were 2,884 sexual offences recorded. While for 2018, this number rose to 3,182.

Noeline Blackwell is CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

She told Newstalk Breakfast there is a culture change happening, with more victims coming forward.

"As far as we can see in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, from what we hear and the people we're connected in with - there does seem to be a change in the climate, a recognition that it is proper to report, that if a sexual offence has been committed on you that it is not your fault."

"I think it's probably a combination of a whole lot of things - people are more aware through things like 'MeToo', various other initiatives, Time's Up, also through students for instance - the student unions have been brilliant.

"Also we have in our legislation - in 2017 - we put down in black and white that sex without consent was rape and that was the first time we had it written down like that".

"So I think maybe there's a lot more recognition in the last couple of years that it's OK to report.

"However we really can only say that as speculation, because the truth is we don't have the good surveys that would give us basic data on that."

She said the Government is viewing the increase in sexual offences "as one more little thing that they have to deal with... whereas, in fact, the increase is quite dramatic".

"If they were to treat it as kind of an epidemic in some ways, or a recognitition, a less-hidden epidemic which was hidden before".

She added that while various Government departments are working on the issue "it is a case that this was an area of crime and harm that people could not or did not talk about.

"Now something has burst open, and there needs to be a real strong implementation plan - it can't be business as usual".


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