Poll findings on non-consensual sex ‘shocking’

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has expressed shock, but not surprise, that more than one in five Irish people think having sex without consent is acceptable in certain situations.

The Eurobarometer poll also found that 11% of Irish people believe being drunk or on drugs justifies sex without consent.

Chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell, said they are concerned and shocked, but not surprised by the figures.

“We know people don’t think enough about consent, and don’t understand it well enough,” she said. “But sex without consent is rape.”

She referred to the recent Supreme Court judgement that sex without consent could not exist if a woman, for any reason, was not in a condition to give it.

Ms Blackwell said the aim over the next year should be to reduce by half the number of people who think sex without consent is acceptable in certain situations.

The survey found that 7% of Irish people think walking home alone, wearing certain clothing, and going home with someone makes sex without consent acceptable. About 9% think sex without consent is acceptable if a person is wearing revealing clothes. A similar number (9%) said intercourse without consent is justified if a person voluntarily goes home with them.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is supporting the 16 Days campaign opposing violence against women.

“Between now and Saturday, December 10, we want to remind people that consent in sexual relations is crucial,” said Ms Blackwell. “Consent makes the difference — it makes a good relationship or an assault. Without consent, it is an assault, up to and including rape.”

She said they are not surprised that people do not feel they need to ask for consent from someone who has consumed alcohol or drugs.

“We come across people who have been assaulted when they have been drinking or taking drugs, and they are afraid to say what happened,” said Ms Blackwell.

The Eurobarometer poll was published yesterday to mark International Day to End Violence Against Women, and 1,002 people were interviewed in Ireland for the survey.

Three quarters (77%) said domestic violence against women was common and one quarter (26%) stated that they knew a friend or family member who had been a victim. The survey also showed victim-blaming persists — almost one in five (18%) believe violence is often provoked by the victim. Nearly one in four (23%) think women often make up or exaggerate claims of abuse.

Meanwhile, a report shows that a woman in Ireland is most likely to be killed in her home and by a current or former partner or husband. Since 1996, 209 women have died violently.


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