Drink culture blamed for sex assaults

NEARLY one-third of those who attended the country’s biggest sexual assault unit last year had suffered memory loss due to heavy drinking, according to its director.

Consultant gynaecologist Dr Mary Holohan has urged policy makers to tackle the growing binge drinking culture as she says a growing number of attacks are on drunk women and carried out by drunk men.

Three hundred people attended the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) at the Rotunda Hospital last year — an increase of 50 on 2002.

Women aged 14-60 were seen at the unit and 60% of these women had drank more than four units before their alleged assault took place.

Dr Holohan says that most Irish women don’t tend to have their drinks ‘spiked’ with Rohypnol but instead, they themselves, their attackers or friends tend to buy them copious amounts of alcohol — including double shots.

“I wouldn’t say that these women are targeted as both parties are actively involved in the drinking. A lot of the incidents are stemming from our growing drinks culture,” she warned.

Dr Holohan is due to speak on the role of alcohol and drugs in sexual assault at the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) second annual conference on women’s health in Portlaoise today.

“What we tend to find when talking to women is that the person that attacks them when they are drunk is, at least, an acquaintance.

“Very often, they are from within the same group of friends. A common scenario is that a group will have been drinking at home and then go on to a club and then to a house party. They are with people they know when an incident occurs,” Dr Holohan said.

Research is also due to be presented at the ICGP conference on the state of women’s health services within the GP sector.

Questionnaires, completed by GPs, found that a high level of women’s health issues are being dealt with in general practice by women GPs.

However, it’s recommended that existing levels of services are evaluated to identify gaps and to develop a blueprint for the future development of the women’s health sector.

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