‘Very high’ alcohol consumption a factor in most rapes

“VERY high levels of alcohol consumption” are implicated in the majority of rapes of young women, most of whom have also been drinking, according to Dr Stacey Scriver of global women’s studies at the National University of Ireland Galway.

Dr Scriver was speaking at an event running as part of the international 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women Campaign.

She said the rape stereotype of a stranger attacking a woman in a public area late at night was “a rarity”.

“These aren’t stranger rapes but rapes committed by acquaintances, partners and ex-partners,” she said.

“Exploring the issue of alcohol, youth and sexual violence is therefore an incredibly important step in understanding, and hopefully reducing, rape in Ireland.”

Caroline Counihan, legal policy director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, who also spoke at the event, said our binge-drinking culture provides the context for the majority of sexual violence. “Alcohol’s presence presents challenges in responding appropriately to sexual violence. Rape survivors, where alcohol was present, were not only more vulnerable to targeting for sexual assault in the first place, but once they report such an attack to the Gardaí, they were less likely to obtain redress through the legal system,” she said.

Referring to a recent study Rape, Alcohol and Justice in Ireland, Ms Counihan said to address alcohol consumption and behaviour while drinking is to address sexual violence.

“Any relationship between alcohol and sexual violence is complex. Alcohol is not, and cannot be, an excuse for rape or an excuse for recklessness as to consent. How we choose to consume alcohol is a choice. How we chose to behave having consumed alcohol is not solely determined by alcohol; there are wider cultural influences at play.”

Ms Counihan said it was time to kill the “myth” of “contributory negligence”, such as clothing and other behaviour of victims.

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