National study on sexual violence

 

Sir, – The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre welcomes the announcement by Minister for Justice Charles J Flanagan that the Government has approved a national study of the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland and that the Central Statistics Office will be commissioned to conduct the survey (“Proposed sexual violence study to cost over ¤1 million”, News, November 17th). We have been pressing for a survey for over 10 years – the last substantial study having taken place in 2002. The lack of reliable statistics hampered understanding of the problem of sexual violence, and possible solutions. The proposal to have this study undertaken by the Central Statistics Office is a good one as the State will then have the tools and understanding to collect information on a regular basis.

While the announcement is welcome, there are still a number of questions to be teased out. One is whether the survey 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.

We also need to understand how research on small marginal groups, and research on sexual harassment, is to be undertaken as both of these are excluded from the proposed national study. It would be a great pity if we had to wait even longer to understand how some small minorities experience sexual violence as they might be at particular risk. We would hope that as plans are made, the methodology for researching these groups might be included. – Yours, etc,

NOELINE BLACKWELL,

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

McGonnell House,

Lower Leeson Street,

Dublin 2.