Cahill welcomes politicians’ ‘helping hands’

27 January 2016

Labour Senator Mairia Cahill has thanked all those TDs and Senators who took part in the briefing and photocall that she organised with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Women’s Aid and One in Four today.

Speaking this afternoon, Senator Cahill said: “Today’s event was a great success, and I would like to thank those from across all political parties and independents, including Tanaiste Joan Burton, who took the time to meet with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Women’s Aid and One in Four, and to listen to their priorities and issues for the next Government.

“I said when I was elected to the Seanad that I would work to support victims of sexual and domestic abuse, and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to welcome the groups to meet with TDs and Senators today. Abuse is a huge problem in Ireland and almost every family is affected. It is important that each party gives priority to these issues in order to help victims and to try and reduce incidents of abuse.”

Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, the CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said: “Sexual violence is still very much under-reported in Ireland. In 2002 when the SAVI Report (Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland) was published, it told us that only 1 in 10 report these crimes. Some 47% of the respondents to the research hadn’t spoken to anyone else about their experiences before the research. We know that the number of victims using the services of RCCs has escalated, particularly after the publications of the Ryan Murphy and Cloyne Reports. We need a second SAVI Report to measure the true prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland so that we can properly inform policies and ensure that the appropriate preventions are developed and that services are made available and funded to support the recovery of the victims.”

Maeve Lewis, Executive Director of One in Four said: “Fewer than 10% of adult survivors of child sexual abuse engage with the criminal justice system and fewer cases proceed to trial. People describe the experience of being a complainant witness as traumatising and humiliating. Even where there is a conviction, people tell us that if they had known what was involved, they would never have made a complaint. It is vital that the Victims’ Rights Bill should be enacted and that every effort be made to recognise the special vulnerability of victims of sexual crime. It is time to finally create a criminal justice system that respects the rights of victims as well as of alleged offenders so that more people will be prepared to come forward and report this devastating crime.”
Concluding, Margaret Martin the Director of Women’s Aid, said: “Domestic violence is a serious crime, one that can result in stress, short and long term trauma and physical injuries and, in extreme cases, homicide. The recently launched 2nd National Strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence commits Government to make Ireland a safer place for victims of gender based violence. Women’s Aid is calling on the next Government to ensure adequate resourcing to specialist support and other services to support women and children experiencing domestic violence and to ratifying the Istanbul Convention. The commitment to reform of the current domestic violence legislation is welcome but needs to extend eligibility to women in dating relationships, emergency barring orders, stalking and online abuse in intimate relationships.”

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