Calls for research to overcome ‘antiquated data’ in combating sexual violence

There are calls for a large research project to be carried out into sexual abuse in Ireland.

The last in-depth study, the SAVI report, was done 15 years ago but the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre says the country has changed a lost since then, with social media, more same sex couples, different cultures and a different economy.

CEO Noeline Blackwell says they’ve seen a rise in calls recently following a number of high profile campaigns and controversies.

Katherine Zappone TD and Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

She says it was particularly noticeable after former Irish Times journalist Tom Humphries was sentenced for sexually abusing a teenage girl.

“The day after the Tom Humphries sentencing, the number of calls to our helpline doubled,” said Blackwell.

“The ‘me too’ (viral hashtag), the (case of Harvey) Weinstein, and before that other issues as well have all led to a situation where it’s like a sluice gate opening in a dam.

“The trouble is we have been trying to identify how best to combat sexual violence without modern data. It’s not even that it’s not up to date; it’s just antiquated.”

The in-depth study would cost around €1million to carry out. Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has already said she’d support it and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has indicated the same.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald

“The government will address this I’m sure. We do need comprehensive research,” said Fitzgerald.

“We see increasing levels of sexual violence, of harassment, of growth in pornography, and it’s important that we have an overall look from a research point of view of the kind of evidence that’s out there.”

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre says until such a study is carried out, the Government is working off patchy and ineffective data.

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