Concerns raised that report on sexual violence in Ireland will take five years

Information on the prevalence of sexual violence not available until 2024

Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council said  up to date data on sexual violence is urgently needed. File photograph:  Dara Mac Donaill

Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council said up to date data on sexual violence is urgently needed. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Serious concerns were raised on Wednesday that the first report in almost two decades on the extent of sexual violence in Ireland will take five years to complete.

The Government on Tuesday gave the green light for a comprehensive national report on levels of sexual abuse to be conducted by the Central Statistics Office.

The last such report, Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) was in 2002 – commissioned by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons. It found one in five women experienced physical sexual abuse in childhood and one in six men had, while one in five women experienced sexual assault as adults and one in ten men had.

There have long been calls for a ’SAVI 2’ and while it was welcomed on Wednesday, the fact it would not be published until 2024 indicated a lack of urgency on Government’s part, according to the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI).

Its director Orla O’Connor, said: “We really welcome the fact that the CSO is now responsible for this critically important report and will survey and research sexual violence in Ireland on an ongoing basis.

“However, we are seriously concerned about the long timeline of five years until the new report will be published. We urgently need up to date data on sexual violence in order to develop effective responses and prevention measures. If more resources are needed to reduce the timeframe, these should be urgently made available by the Government.”

A total of €150,000 has been allocated for the first year’s work on the report though the estimated cost of a SAVI2 has been put at €1 million.

Budget

Noeline Blackwell, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, welcomed the new survey.

“But there are still questions to be teased out. One is whether it needs to take five years – which will mean that we will not have any information on the prevalence of sexual violence until 2024 at the earliest – which is far too late.

“There is also the lack of a committed budget beyond the very modest allocation of approximately €150,000 in 2019. We need to hear much more about why progress will be so slow and whether with extra resources, it could be speeded up. We also need to understand how the government and the people can be assured that progress on the study will be adequately funded in second and subsequent years.”

Both organisations are disappointed that a separate survey on the extent of sexual violence among vulnerable minority groups, like Travellers, members of the LGBTQI, disabled and migrant communities, would not happen until after the main SAVI2 report.

Director general of the CSO, Pádraig Dalton said “given the complexity and sensitivity” of the issues scoping, planning and conducting the survey, and collating data could take five years.

“The provision of reliable, robust, objective and internationally comparable information requires that the planning and execution of this survey is undertaken in a professional and comprehensive manner.”