A homeless charity says some young women are getting into relationships with older men to stop them being sexually assaulted on the streets of Cork.
There are concerns many victims are afraid to come forward over fears they will suffer further abuse.
Caitriona Twomey from Cork Penny Dinners has been helping vulnerable people in the city for decades.
She is concerned homeless women are being sexually assaulted in plain sight on the streets and says that for many women staying safe means picking a partner to protect them.
"We see young girls with a lot of older men and it is just for protection, to keep them safe on the streets.
"It is better to be with one than be at the hands of a few."
Caitriona says in some cases, she has had to physically step in to prevent women being assaulted.
There are concerns it has been even more difficult for victims to access support services during lockdown.
Mary Crilly of the Sexual Violence Centre in Cork says many homeless women are still reluctant to report what has happened to them.
"They won't go that far because they will say 'what's the point?' and that's the problem and that is the huge sadness about it.
"That something so horrific is happening to a human being in our society and they will turn around and say 'what's the point? I won't get justice. I won't be believed. I'm not worth it anyway, it doesn't matter'."
The government's being urged to step in and address the issue.
If you need immediate help call 999.