Howlin calls for funding to be restored to Rape Crisis Network
At Leader’s Questions today, Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin raised with the Taoiseach the need to restore funding to the Rape Crisis Network and for better data collection.
Deputy Howlin said:
“According to Garda statistics in 2017, there were 2,945 sexual offences committed in Ireland and 655 cases of rape.
“While the 2017 Women’s Aid report shows there were 19,385 disclosures of domestic abuse against women and children including 607 cases of sexual abuse.
“Sadly, we know that behind these numbers there are probably many more victims who have not come forward and we know that few rape trials end in convictions.
“We have seen questions raised recently about the quality of data collection and we need to see reform of how data is collected on sexual assaults and rape. The recent HIQA report into failings by TUSLA into the handling of sexual offence allegations shows our ongoing failings.
“The Rape Crisis Network plays a vital role in working with survivors of rape and it provides co-ordination and support to local Rape Crisis Centres across the country, and helps gather data and magnify their voices.
“However, funding for the Rape Crisis Network has been cut, and the organisation is struggling to continue its work.
“Its funding has been placed under TUSLA, even though adult victims of rape and sexual abuse are technically outside of TUSLA’s remit, meaning that the organisation is unlikely to get the priority it deserves in such a context.
“All around the world, encouraged by the #metoo movement, victims of sexual assault and rape are coming forward with their personal stories and testimonies, showing tremendous courage and helping to break down some of the barriers to justice.
“There is an urgent need for us to ensure that the State is providing sufficient funding to services that support victims of sexual violence and rape when they do come forward.
“I am calling on the Taoiseach and the Government to commit to increased funding, and reconsider who the appropriate funding body should be.”