26 June 2017
By Elaine Murphy
Sexual Violence Centre Cork has launched its Annual Report for 2016. The Centre provides services to victims of sexual violence, their families and friends, in addition to supporting professionals and community / voluntary organisations to assist victims. Services were availed of by victims of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, survivors of child sexual abuse, victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking throughout 2016. Figures released today show that demand for services provided by the Centre remained largely consistent with 2015 figures.
- 310 victims of sexual violence availed of our services in 2016, of these clients 248 contacted the Centre for the first time in 2016 and 62 clients were ongoing
- 155 family members and friends of victims of sexual violence availed of the Centre’s services
- The telephone helpline received 1,426 calls and 1,006 contacts were made through the text service
- 92 callouts were made to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit
- 1633 counselling sessions were offered
- 91% of clients were female
- 53% of clients experienced adult rape / sexual assault
- 27% of clients were adult survivors of child sexual abuse
- 15% of clients were 14-18 years old
- 3% were victims of sex trafficking
- In cases of adult rape / assault, 50% of clients were aged 18-23, 22% were aged 24-29, 14% were aged 30-39, 8% were aged 40-49, 3% were aged 50-59 and 3% were aged 60+
- 35% of clients were students, 6% were homeless, 5% identified as LGBTQ+, 3% declared a disability, 3% resided in direct provision and 1% were members of the travelling community
- 32% of clients experienced multiple incidences of sexual violence
- 45% of clients reported the rape / sexual assault to the Gardai
- 25% of assaults took place in the persons own home, 23% outdoors, 22% in the perpetrators house
- 74% of perpetrators were known to the victim, 26% were not
- 20 clients availed of the court accompaniment service
- 180 professionals contacted the Centre and availed of information and support
Commenting on the Annual Report 2016, Mary Crilly, Director, Sexual Violence Centre Cork said:
“I have had the privilege and pleasure to work in the Sexual Violence Centre Cork, since it opened its doors 33 years ago, to provide services to the victims of sexual violence in Cork City and County.
Over the years there have been times of deep despair and times of great hope – despair that sexual violence appears to be endemic in our world: great hope that this can be changed. Every victim I meet, deepens my belief in the ability of victims to regain their lives. I am continually inspired by their bravery. Every supporter I meet, deepens my conviction that we can change our world. The power of one and the power of many can have amazing results.
1 in 5 women in Ireland experience sexual violence. We have a conviction rate of 5%. Only 1 in 4 victims report to the Gardaí. Sexual violence is about power and control. It is about misogyny.
Recent times have seen conversations and campaigns about consent. Consent is not grey. There is consensual sex and there is sexual assault. There is nothing in-between.
2016 heralded a number of positive developments in the area of sexual violence, most notably the progression of The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill through the Dail and Seanad. It was enacted on 27th March 2017. This Act addresses a number of issues including:
- A statutory definition of consent
- New offences relating to the sexual exploitation of persons with disabilities
- New offences relating to the sexual exploitation of children including grooming, and the use of technology to facilitate this type of abuse.
- The criminalising of the purchase of sexual services.
2016 also saw the establishment of the Garda Protective Services Unit in Cork. This is a welcome development which will ensure consistency in investigations and improved liaison with victims.
2016 also had its disappointments, most notably that Ireland did not ratify the Istanbul Convention, which was signed in 2015. The Convention sets minimum standards for governments when tackling violence against women. On ratifying the Convention Ireland would be legally bound to take the necessary steps to protect women and prosecute offenders.
At the Centre we see victims of rape, sexual assault, child sex abuse, sexual harassment and domestic violence. The number of victims of sex trafficking we see continues to increase. We are encountering victims of FGM and forced marriage. The challenge for the Centre is to respond to these emerging forms of sexual violence. The use of social media to harass and abuse is on the increase. More and more, it forms an additional element in sexual abuse.
An ongoing challenge for the Centre is the issue of funding. Funding levels have remained the same for the past five years. While this offers a level of security in terms of service provision, it follows several years of funding reductions. My hope is that funding will be increased to allow us to restore service provision in West Cork and North Cork. The Victims of Crime Office continue to support our victim accompaniment services. We are disappointed that COSC, the National Office for the prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence have diverted their funding of local organisations for awareness raising programmes to national campaigns. My hope is that this decision will be reversed in 2017.
The Centre would not exist and could not operate without the support of our volunteers, supporters and those who raise funds for the service. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Board of Directors who so generously gave freely of their time and expertise throughout the year. I would also like to thank our staff team who continue to deliver our core services to victims of sexual violence with dedication and compassion. Most importantly, I want to thank all of the victims of sexual violence who have come to the Centre. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your resilience. It is you who give me the passion and the energy to keep going every day.”