More than one woman is raped in Dublin every day, new figures revealed today.
During the month of July, 39 women attended the Sexual Assault and Treatment Unit (SATU) at the city’s Rotunda Hospital, while 31 women were examined there in June.
The figures, compiled by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), were released as it emerged fewer than one in 10 sexual assault cases are reported to gardai.
The study, commissioned by the Rape Crisis Network in Ireland (RCNI), also found that 95% of cases reported to gardai will never reach court.
It showed that Ireland has the worst record in Europe when it comes to successfully prosecuting people accused of sex crimes.
Kate Mulkerrins, legal co-ordinator with RCNI, blamed the quality of garda investigations and a range of failures in the legal system on low number of cases being brought by victims.
“The average rape case takes 118 weeks from someone being charged to getting a case to trial, and that’s on top of the time between reporting a crime and a charge,” she said.
“That’s double the time of a similar case in the UK.
“We take far too long, we don’t support people enough in the system, and essentially we leave people in the dark.
“Most of the stresses caused post report is the lack of information given to complainants about what is happening.”
Calling for gardai to be trained specifically to deal with sexual violence and dedicated units in each region to accommodate, she said victims were being asked to put their lives on hold for many years, with some cases taking up to four years to go through the court system.
Just 13% of RCNI clients reported their rapes to gardai last year, compared with one-fifth of service users in 2004.
Ms Mulkerrins said that women raped by someone they know are also less likely to make a complaint.
“Random acts by strangers make up less than one in five reported rapes,” she continued.
“You are much more likely to be raped by somebody you know whether that’s a partner, ex partner, or somebody within your social complex. For all of us we can consider the difficulties we would have in reporting somebody known to you, your family, your social groups.
“People are much more likely to report strange rapes than report a rape by a known intimate.”
The figures reveal that more women attended the SATU in Dublin last month than the total number of rape convictions across the country last year.
Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, of DRCC, said the amount of people attending the unit peaks every July, August and over the Christmas period.
“Our figures show that one person attended the unit every day last year, an increase of 20% on the previous year,” she said.
“Although more people are coming forward, we also know that only between 8% and 10% of people who call us report a rape or sexual assault.”
The Courts Service recorded 61 rape and sexual assault cases were dealt with at the Central Criminal Court in 2006, with 60% of rapists pleading guilty to the charge.
Of the total figure, 27 defendants were convicted of rape, with one man handed a life sentence.
A further 14 men convicted of sexual assault, eight were acquitted, while 12 cases fell in to the ’other’ category which included nolle prosequi.
The three-year study of Ireland’s attrition rate – cases that fall out of the system after being reported to gardaí – will be completed next year.