Press Release

Tánaiste launches the First Report of the National Rape Crisis statistics “What survivors told us”

At the launch of the First Report of the National Rape Crisis statistics : “What survivors told us”, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children , Mary Harney T.D., today said “I have asked the Health Service Executive to urgently examine the optimum service requirements for victims of rape, in respect of both medical treatment and counselling services, with a view to bringing forward proposals for future service needs.”

This Report provides an important tool towards the provision of evidence based policy and services and both endorses and supplements the data produced in the SAVI Report (Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland) Report, published in 2002 by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

The SAVI Report found that persons who had experienced sexual violence were significantly more likely to have used medication for anxiety or depression or to have been an in-patient in a psychiatric hospital. Those who had experienced penetrative abuse – either attempted or actual – were eight times more likely to have been a psychiatric hospital in-patient (SAVI);

Almost a quarter of perpetrators of sexual violence against adult women were intimate partners or ex-partners (RCNI report and SAVI);

While some men avail of the services of the Rape Crisis Centres, the majority of the Centres’ clients are female. RCNI has as one of its core values and beliefs, that sexual violence is underpinned and sustained by inequalities, including gender equality.

The Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945, was the first international agreement to proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right. In its Platform for Action arising from the Beijing conference in 1995, the United Nations recognises violence against women as a critical area of concern;

The Tánaiste said the Government is meeting one of its commitments under Sustaining Progress by preparing a National Women’s Strategy for Women and the issue of violence against women will be given a high priority within that Strategy.

In 1996 the Government established a Task Force on Violence against Women to develop a co-ordinated response and strategy on the problem of mental, physical and sexual violence against women;

This Task Force reported in 1997 following which the then Government established the National Steering Committee on Violence against Women;

The National Steering Committee on Violence against Women, in which the Department of Health and Children is actively involved, is currently preparing its strategy for the next five years and I await this report with interest;

Essential in the provision of services to victims of sexual violence is the availability of medical assistance and forensic testing. This has been provided by Sexual Assault Treatment Units. The access to these units has not been uniform throughout the country and in an effort to address this inequity, the Department is currently chairing a multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral group which is examining a number of models of delivery of these services;

This group is also examining the provision of medical and forensic services to 12 to 17 year old victims, a group which is also highlighted in the report being launched today.

The Department of Health and Children and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform have, already, each provided €0.5m (total €1m) to immediately fund some of the recommendations of this group. The report and findings from this group will be completed within the next three months.

Funding is provided by the Exchequer via the Health Services Executive towards the provision of health and personal social services to women victims of violence with €12m spent nationally each year on these services.