The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) has welcomed an announcement by the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, that a new national study of sexual violence in Ireland is to take place, however it has questioned why this could take up to five years to complete.
Earlier this week, Minister Flanagan announced that the Central Statistics Office (CSO) would oversee a major survey on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland. It has said that this study could take up to five years to complete.
The last major study - the Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (SAVI) Report - was published in 2002, and the DRCC has been pushing for a new survey for over a decade.
According to DRCC spokesperson, Noeline Blackwell, the lack of reliable statistics in this area has had a negative impact, hampering the chance to come up with possible solutions.
She said that the decision to have the CSO carry out this study is a ‘good one, as the State will then have the tools and understanding to collect information on a regular basis'.
However, she expressed concern about some aspects of the proposal.
"There are still a number of questions to be teased out. One is whether the survey needs to take five years. This 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," she commented.
Ms Blackwell also queried how research on small marginal groups, and on sexual harassment, is to be undertaken, as both of these are excluded from the proposed new 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," she said.
The SAVI Report in 2002 found that one in five women, and one in 10 men, had experienced sexual assaults as adults. Meanwhile, at least four in 10 women, and almost three in 10 men, had experienced some form of sexual abuse or assault in their lifetime. The full report can be viewed here
The DRCC is reminding the public that anyone affected by these issues can contact its national 24-hour helpline on 1800 77 88 88.