A woman raped by her boyfriend in her sleep has hit out at broadcaster George Hook for his “crass, outdated and insulting” comments while discussing her case on radio.
Niamh Nic Dhomhnaill, a 28-year-old former teacher, was assaulted by former boyfriend, 25-year-old Magnus Meyer Hustveit, previously of Leo Street, North Circular Road, Dublin.
At the Central Criminal Court, the Norwegian pleaded guilty to one count of rape and one count of sexual assault, between 2011 and 2012, and was given a seven-year suspended sentence.
Ms Nic Dhomhnaill waived her anonymity to name her attacker and raise awareness of sexual assault.
During Tuesday’s edition of Newstalk’s The Right Hook, presenter George Hook compared rape to how he felt when his house was broken into: “I found it an incredible invasion. I had no idea what it was going to be like because it’s the only time my house has been burgled... Now you then multiply that tenfold in the case of rape.”
In conversation with Ivana Bacik, Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin’s Law School, the presenter questioned whether or not sexual consent could be “implied” in a co-habiting relationship.
“You go into a relationship with somebody be it marriage or be it you’re living with somebody. So now you’re sharing a bed with somebody, yes? And obviously sexual congress takes place on a regular basis because you’re living with somebody. Now is there not an implied consent, therefore that you consent to sexual congress?” he asked.
“George that’s an outrageous suggestion. Really? Honestly? I’m surprised at you,” Dr Bacik replied.
“I am appalled. Even for you that’s a terribly, a terribly dated and unbelievable assertion to make.”
Ms Nic Dhomhnaill, who had been on the station earlier, said she was “shocked” by the “insensitive” comments: “Moreover, that the very radio station that I gave my first interview to, and indeed, at the time, I thought that this would be the only media interview that I would give, have, within hours broadcast such a crass, outdated and insulting comment about victims of sexual abuse in intimate relationships, came as a great surprise to me and I found it very disappointing.”
Mr Hook clarified his words yesterday but stopped short of an all-out apology: “It has come to my attention that Niamh Nic Dhomhnaill was hurt by what I said and felt that I was insensitive to her plight... That was never my intention. I never said and would never say that a man has implied consent from the woman with whom he shares a bed.”
Cliona Sadlear, acting executive director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland, said: “Comments like these are really, deeply unhelpful.
“Thoughts and comments like this are in our culture. It is there and we need to respond to it by clearly defining rape in our legislation and by educating everyone in our society. We need to send a very clear message about consent.”
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