A major national study on sexual violence in Ireland is expected to start next year but will take up to two years to complete.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he intends to bring proposals to Government at the end of November for the study, the second of its kind, which is expected to cost over €1 million.
Mr Flanagan said if Cabinet accepts the proposal the study will commence next year but there was at least two years’s work in it.
Calls have been repeatedly made for a new study to update the outdated figures on sexual violence which has been based on the last Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (Savi) study in 2004.
Speaking during a press conference at the Fine Gael Ardfheis the minister made reference to the controversy about the Cork Circuit Court rape trial, where a 17-year-old complainant’s underwear was held up to jurors who were told that her clothing should be taken into account in the case.
Mr Flanagan said “clothes don’t rape women, rapists rape women”.
He said “it’s important that the criminal justice system responds in a way that ensures that complaints of sexual assault and sexual violence are followed through on to ensure justice”.
Mr Flanagan said he was “very keen to ensure that the investigation of sexual violence is done in a way that is appropriate to modern society.
He was “very concerned at recent reports of cases in that area”.
A working group he established with criminal justice expert Professor Tom O’Malley would report at the end of the year.
“We’ve strengthened the law pertaining to the practice and procedure of court cases that I’m very keen could be reviewed and that’s what Professor O’Malley is doing.”
Mr Flanagan said he was very concerned that women who followed up on sexual violence and crime were described as “very brave and courageous. That should not be the case.
“Every crime should be reported, investigated and followed through on.”
That working group is expected to report before the end of the year.
He welcomed Ellen O’Malley Dunlop as a candidate for Dublin South West. Ms O’Malley is a former chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centres.
Mr Flanagan announced the study on sexual violence as part of Fine Gael’s update programme, Taking Ireland Forward Together.
He said the section on security and justice section “will see a strong emphasis on the prevention of sexual violence”.