Centre treats a rape victim every day

IRELAND’S main sex assault treatment unit has attended to 27 rape victims since the start of August — the equivalent of one person every day.

Figures released by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) show that since the start of this month, the Rotunda Hospital’s Sex Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) has been inundated with people suffering from the aftermath of rape or sexual abuse.

Between August 1 and August 27, a total of 27 women were accompanied by gardaí or DRCC volunteers to the centre to receive specialist care, including Leaving Certificate students, tourists and people who had attended summer festival events.

Since the start of June, the service has provided care to 84 people who have been assaulted, 12% higher than the same period in 2008.

Reacting to the figures, DRCC spokesperson Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop said: “We note an increase every year around this time, but this is a clear rise.

“Since the start of the month volunteers for the DRCC have accompanied 27 people to the Rotunda, and that is a significant number.

“People could be on holidays, they could be out for the night with friends or at outdoor music festivals. They could let their guard down, and what we are urging them to do is to be vigilant.”

While other sex assault treatment units are in place in other parts of the country — including Mullingar, Cork, Letterkenny and Waterford — the service at the Rotunda is the largest in Ireland.

The latest figures for the Rotunda Hospital’s SATU service come after it emerged that 62% more people were seen at the unit during the first three months of this year than the same period in 2008.

Between January and March, 76 people were accompanied by rape crisis centre volunteers to the facility, up 29 on the corresponding figure 12 months previously.

This indicated a consistent rise in attacks.

According to the DRCC, in eight out of 10 sex assault cases the perpetrator is known to the victim.

However, despite a victim’s ability to identify the attacker, it can take more than two years for a rape or sex assault case to be heard in court.

* Anyone affected by these issues can contact the 24-hour national rape crisis helpline on 1800-778888.

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