THE reasons why Irish rapists are escaping justice is to be detailed this morning with the publication of the most comprehensive study of its kind revealing how victims feel let down by the legal system.
The work has lifted the lid on more than 550 files in the Director of Public Prosecutions and a further 180 cases which went through the Central Criminal Court.
It documented the plight of victims, the reasons they did not pursue cases and where the Garda and the courts system fell down.
Preliminary findings from the research have already revealed that, during the five-year period of study, juries dominated by women had failed to convict a single rapist.
Sixty-five male-dominated juries convicted 17 rapists, but 18 panels where there were more women than men acquitted everybody who appeared before them on the charges of rape.
The study, Rape & Justice in Ireland, was completed by the school of law in NUI Galway and commissioned by the Rape Crisis Network Ireland.
It is the first study of Ireland’s high levels of attrition in rape cases where victims are unlikely to report the crime and those who do are unlikely to see their attacker convicted.
Director of the RCNI Fiona Neary said the figures have made it clear the country has a conviction deficit in sexual crimes and this study helps explain why.
She said those who had been raped felt the system was unresponsive and thwarted their efforts to recover.
“They talk of the lack of dignity and respect in how they are treated; how they feel it is they who are on trial and how their voice is ignored by the system.
“For those who have a positive experience of reporting, they also feel isolated and lost, are not kept informed, and have been unable to move on with their lives because of the years waiting for their case to come to court.”
The report will be launched by Eithne Fitzgerald in Dublin this morning. It contains first-hand accounts from the survivors of rape who participated in the study.
“I just found that you’re extremely vulnerable and you’re very broken and you’re extremely sensitive.
“[But] because the way the criminal justice system is... you have to defend yourself from the minute it happens.
“You have to go through the process of... of being examined, making statements, being questioned, being ridiculed, asking about the most private details of the assault, the rape or whatever, the attack,” said one interviewee.
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