Relative or friend perpetrated 97% of child sex assaults

 

SOME 97 per cent of those who had been sexually abused as a child and sought help from a Rape Crisis Centre last year had been abused by a family member or friend of the family, according the latest statistics from the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI).

The statistics, published yesterday, show 1,840 women received face-to-face help from 14 centres around the State last year, an increase of 152 people, or 8.4 per cent, on 2007.

The vast majority (85 per cent) were women, and almost nine out of 10 of them had experienced sexual violence.

“Survivors reported that perpetrators were overwhelmingly male (95.7 per cent). Almost nine out of every 10 perpetrators (86.6 per cent) are known to the survivors.”

Looking at those who survived sex abuse as children, the report finds 98 per cent of the abusers were male.

“Family members or relatives perpetrated one half (50.8 per cent) of sexual violence against children. Friends, acquaintances and neighbours were perpetrators in one third of cases (34 per cent).

“Sexual violence perpetrated by a stranger accounted for only 2.8 per cent of sexual violence experienced by children, compared with 19.6 per cent of sexual violence perpetrated against adults.”

The figures underlined an urgent need for action to protect children in the home, RCNI executive director Fiona Neary said.

There were vulnerable children in homes across the State who were known by the HSE to be at risk and yet who were receiving no intervention, she added. “There are social work posts remaining unfilled and at-risk children who are not being safeguarded.

“At a time when the Government is continuing to drag its heels in putting a constitutional referendum on children’s rights before the people, the family home remains unsafe for some children,” she said.

The statistics showed three in every 10 survivors had been abused by more than one person. In some cases the abuser knew of the other abuser(s), while in others the survivor had been abused as a child and was re-abused as an adult.

Ms Neary called for greater partnership between the HSE and the RCNI, particularly on funding. She said funding decisions were made on a fragmented, local basis, which resulted in wide disparities in funding levels.