RCNI Statement on Cuan 2024 implementation plan

April 2nd, 2024 

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) welcomes the publication today of the 2024 Implementation Plan for Zero Tolerance: Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (DSGBV) by statutory DSGBV agency Cuan.  

This ambitious plan is part of the Government’s Zero Tolerance, whole-of-government strategy to combat DSGBV in which RCNI plays a key role. The announcement today points to a welcome focus on national service standards and research which will inform DSGBV policy development.  

We particularly welcome the focus emphasised in the plan, on building a ‘strong evidence base for future preventative actions will be established in 2024 to review best practice models in preventing DSGBV.’   

“This implementation plan recognises that intervening in culture requires constant re-elevation of our approach,” says RCNI’s CEO Cliona Saidlear, “as culture and perpetration constantly moves and transforms, it is vital that we learn and innovate.” 

The establishment of Cuan promises to herald a new era of collaboration and achievements in our sector and the plan’s strong commitment to engagement and co-creation is particularly welcomed.  

RCNI looks forward to working with Cuan to make this plan a reality that not only delivers equity of access and supports to all survivors nationwide but ensures the best thinking is informing zero tolerance. 

~ends~ 

 

RCNI Statement on removal of consent from Criminal Law Sexual Offences and Human Trafficking Bill 2023

Statement on the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee’s withdrawal of wording on consent from forthcoming legislation on rape – 30/11/2023, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI). 

RCNI are certainly disappointed in the loss of this provision on testing a defendant’s reasonable belief in consent from this bill.

However, in RCNI’s consultation with the Dept and Minister, it was made clear that it would be a mistake to proceed with it. This Bill does not cover the issue comprehensively which could lead to a confusing double stand in our law. We have furthermore been assured of the Dept and Minster’s intention to include this provision in subsequent legislation and in an expanded form.

We call on the Minister to set out for the Oireachtas the rationale for this decision and outline –  comprehensively and without delay – the new bill  so that this can gain all party support and progress as a matter of priority.

The core challenge is that much reform in sexual violence law is developed a piecemeal fashion. This is unsustainable and has been criticised by the Grevio report just published by the Council of Europe on Ireland’s compliance with international obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).

A coherent and consistent codification of the law on sexual violence is needed to ensure both our compliance with European requirements and an accessible legal system for victims.

For further details, please contact Louise Williams, RCNI comms on 0876790137 or comms@rcni.ie

The Central Statistics Office releases the final report of its ground-breaking Sexual Violence Survey

5 October 2023

For immediate release

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today released the final report of its ground-breaking Sexual Violence Survey.

Today’s data provides insight on general attitudes to sexual violence. Participants in the survey, who were not themselves survivors, were asked for their level of agreement with certain statements on sexual violence. Their responses provide insights into perceptions of sexual violence according to gender and age.

Key findings:

  • Almost nine in ten (87%) adults disagreed with the statement “If a person who has been raped is not visibly upset by the experience, it probably was not rape”. The rate for men and women was similar, at 88% and 86% respectively.
  • Those aged 65 and over were three times more likely to agree with the statement “Women often make up or exaggerate reports of rape” (15%) compared with those aged 35-44 (5%).
  • Those aged 65 and over were most likely to be uncertain with the statement “Men may be too embarrassed to say they have been raped” (23%), over twice the levels for those aged 18-24 (11%).

Dr Clíona Saidléar, Executive Director, Rape Crisis Network Ireland welcomes the data released today by the CSO:

‘’Almost 90% of people surveyed understand that rape victims may not be visibly upset.

This points to a significant shift towards an openness to believe survivors and perhaps an understanding that different people react differently to sexual violence. In other words, increasingly the Irish public is showing a willingness to not act as judge and jury regarding survivors.”

The Sexual Violence Survey report is available on the CSO website.


About Rape Crisis Network Ireland:

RCNI builds and sustains expertise to identify, make the case for, and implement priorities for a whole-of society and Government response to sexual violence.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland’s Executive Director Clíona Saidléar is available for interview.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact

  • Louise Williams Communications Officer
    comms@rcni.ie / 087 679 0137

Central Statistics Office releases the fifth of six reports from the Sexual Violence Survey

26 September 2023

For immediate release 

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today released the fifth of six reports from the Sexual Violence Survey which measure the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland.

Today’s data focuses on sexual harassment. The objective of the survey is to provide high quality data on sexual violence which will act as a new baseline to measure levels of sexual violence in Ireland.

Key findings:

  • Half of young adults aged 18-24 experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months, compared with 7% of those aged 65 and older.
  • Women are over twice (28%) as likely to experience sexual harassment than men (13%)
  • Women were almost four times more likely to have experienced inappropriate physical contact (15%) than men (4%)
  • Over one in twelve young adults (8%) reported they had experienced their sexual images or videos being shared without their permission in the last 12 months.
  • Half (50%) of men who experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months did not disclose their experience.
  • Women experienced higher rates across all types of sexual harassment except for the sharing of sexual images or videos without their permission, where both men and women experienced it at the same rate (2%).

Dr Clíona Saidléar, Executive Director, Rape Crisis Network Ireland welcomes the data released today by the CSO:

‘This report on sexual harassment, amongst other things, provides one of the first opportunities to gain insights into the new crime of stalking.

It’s important that stalking is counted in this survey of sexual harassment in Ireland. The overall number of people surveyed who report having been stalked is 3%. But for 18-25 year olds, it’s 7%. This is a pattern, across all the forms of harassment – for the younger cohort, where we are seeing an increased vulnerability.’

Today’s publication is part of a series released over 2023 by the CSO as part of their Sexual Violence Survey 2022 research. The objective of the research is to provide high quality national data on sexual violence which will act as a new baseline for assessing levels of sexual violence in Ireland. The survey will be conducted again in ten years’ time.

Dr Clíona Saidléar, Executive Director, Rape Crisis Network Ireland:

‘These statistics on sexual harassment are invaluable in understanding its dynamic and how it affects our daily lives – from the workplace to online, from unwanted comments to stalking.

While the prevalence for young people in particular of harassment and stalking is stark and of great concern, we also see from the data that quite a number of people are talking about their experiences. By breaking the silence on sexual harassment, we are able to build stronger support which will aid survivors and ensure that we can combat these damaging practices which have been tolerated for far too long.’

The Sexual Violence Survey report is available on the CSO website.


About Rape Crisis Network Ireland:

RCNI builds and sustains expertise to identify, make the case for, and implement priorities for a whole-of society and Government response to sexual violence.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland’s Executive Director Clíona Saidléar is available for interview.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact

  • Louise Williams Communications Officer
    comms@rcni.ie / 087 679 0137

RCNI Recruitment – Communications & Information Coordinator

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) is recruiting for a Communications Coordinator

The RCNI Communications Coordinator role is pivotal in achieving best outcomes for survivors in sexual violence at a time of whole of society and governmental reform and transformation.

You will join a dynamic, impactful team, working reflectively and proactively with a sector, survivors, professionals and government at multiple levels towards evidencing and innovating into solutions and capacity building. This is a four day per week role.

Hours: 28 hours over four days

You will work to RCNI’s vision and mission towards an Ireland where we live free of sexual violence through being an innovative and supportive specialist within a movement to end sexual violence.

We are a learning organisation, striving for excellence, investing in building expertise, enriching the feminist analysis of power and violence, encompassing diversity, and employing human rights tools.

We work from the principle of empowerment in a trauma informed way, where we believe survivors are the experts in their own lives and where their agency is acknowledged, choices enabled and dignity respected. We work flexibly and collaboratively, prioritising outcomes.

As Communications Coordinator you will:

  • Coordinate RCNI internal and external communications supporting RCNI advocacy, collaboration and information sharing, including drafting, editing and laying out,
  • Coordinate events and publications,
  • Curate RCNI online spaces including websites and social media.

Line manager will be to the Executive Director Please see full job description attached below.

To apply:

Please send concise CV and cover letter of no more than 2 pages detailing how you fit the criteria to director@rcni.ie

For any queries, please contact Director@rcni.ie Rate of pay for this post is €40,000 pro-rata.

Closing date for applications 24th July 2023. Following shortlisting interviews are expected to take place the week of the 14th of August.

ROLE: RCNI Communications Coordinator 

 

As Communications Coordinator you will: 

  • Coordinate RCNI internal and external communications 
  • Coordinate events 
  • Support RCNI advocacy  
  • Coordinate RCNI materials for publication 
  • Draft, edit and layout communications and publications as appropriate 
  • Develop and maintain a range of communications and information channels 
  • Work within Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) team 
  • Work with wider stakeholders and represent the RCNI as appropriate 
  • Coordinate with external communications contractors. 

 

All Staff Practice will: 

  • Embody RCNI values and principles, demonstrating integrity and fairness 
  • Ensure compliance with RCNI systems and protocols  
  • Promote RCNI strategic objectives, meeting annual work plan  
  • Respond to current, and anticipated future, needs of sexual violence survivors 
  • Engage the wider professional and non-professional community   
  • Work from a feminist, survivor-led analysis of Sexual Violence.  

 

RCNI  

The Communications Coordinator will work to RCNI’s vision and mission towards an Ireland where we live free of sexual violence through being an innovative and supportive specialist within a movement to end sexual violence.  

 

You will join a dynamic, impactful team, working reflectively and proactively with a sector, survivors, professionals and government at multiple levels towards evidencing and innovating into solutions and capacity building.  

 

We are a learning organisation, striving for excellence, investing in building expertise, enriching the feminist analysis of power and violence, encompassing diversity, and employing human rights tools. 

 

We work from the principle of empowerment in a trauma informed way, where we believe survivors are the experts in their own lives and where their agency is acknowledged, choices enabled and dignity respected. We work flexibly and collaboratively, prioritising outcomes.  

RCNI works from feminist principles of equality, empowerment and diversity. Our work practice is hybrid and flexible, valuing staff members’ context within the requirements of the organisation and the role.  

 

Duties and Responsibilities 

  • Supporting RCNI internal and external regular communications, such as the development, publication and distribution of material including our internal circulars, annual and other Reports and National sexual violence Statistics, 
  • To maintain, update and renew the two RCNI websites, 
  • Assisting with the development and implementation of public awareness projects, 
  • Drafting, collating and editing a variety of written materials including press releases, opinion pieces and social media updates, 
  • Coordinating events such as webinars, roundtables and media events, 
  • Supporting RCNI advocacy activity, 
  • Working with the team to maintain effective internal communications and information systems 
  • Dealing directly with members of the media promoting RCNI activity and messages, 
  • Responding to general enquiries for information from stakeholders and the public, 
  • Acting as RCNI representative on advisory bodies and secretariat for RCNI working groups as relevant, including communications, logistics and productions of records and materials as appropriate,   
  • To undertake other tasks and responsibilities as may be reasonably required. 

Supporting the specialist SV response  

General:  

 

  • Adherence to requirements of relevant legislation and internal policy procedures. (e.g., GDPR, Complaints Policy) 
  • Attend regular team meetings and team sessions as per RCNI hybrid working practice 
  • Participation in supervision and support sessions and attend training  
  • Maintain a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in sexual violence matters in public discourse, Government policy and the not-for-profit sector to support RCNI work. 
  • Collaborate with all stakeholders (statutory, non-statutory agencies, other groups, and organisations) and build relationships to promote positive partnerships which address policy and practice barrier issues for RCNI. 
  • Represent RCNI with external agencies/parties in accordance with RCNI ethos, in a professional and ethical manner, and in line with the RCNI strategic vision, mission, and values. 
  • To carry out other duties consistent with the post as may be required. 

 

Key Competencies:  

 

  • Understanding of SV and DSGBV 
  • Understanding of a feminist analysis of sexual violence 
  • Ability to work effectively as part of a team 
  • Excellent writing skills 
  • A successful track record in building relationships  
  • Ability to deliver consistent, high-quality outputs 
  • Capacity to manage messaging and brand across an organisation’s range of outputs 
  • A good understanding of the NGO sector and advocacy, preferably in sexual violence or adjacent subject area 
  • Proficient in the use of Microsoft Office packages including Microsoft Teams  
  • Experience in website management. 

 

Qualifications & Experience: 

 

  • Third level qualification in communications or related field or equivalent experience 
  • Experience in drafting material suitable for a variety of audiences 
  • Experience in website and other platform management 
  • Experience in social media management 
  • Experience in advocacy, directly or in support role 
  • Experience in event management online and offline. 

Other Requirements: 

  • Work flexibly as required, with occasional out-of-hours work and travel 

CSO Childhood experiences of Sexual Violence Survey:

Protecting children – Today’s young adults’ experiences of childhood sexual violence puts us on notice. 

 

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today released the third of six reports from its Sexual Violence Survey measuring the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland. This latest report from the Sexual Violence Survey looks at child sexual violence experienced in the past by adults currently in Ireland. It is not a survey of children today. 

 

Key findings 

  • Almost three in ten adults (29%) experienced sexual violence as a child and there is a clear difference between the sexes. Women reported experiencing it (36%) at a higher level than men (22%)  
  • 73% of those aged 18-24 who experienced contact sexual violence as a child reported that a child (person under 18) was the perpetrator 

  • 25% of women experienced non-contact sexual violence as a child 
  • 10% of men reported that they were made to look at unwanted pornographic material when they were a child 
  • 32% of adults who experienced contact sexual violence as a child experienced it in a public place/outdoors 
  • Bisexual people reported over double the level (58%) of sexual violence as a child compared with heterosexual/straight people (28%). The equivalent rate for gay/lesbian people was 39%. . 
  • People with a third level education reported experiencing sexual violence as a child at over twice the rate (33%) than those with a primary level of education only or below (14%).  
  • Half of women (50%) and 37% of men who experienced contact sexual violence as a child reported that it happened more than once in childhood. 

 

Earlier reports told us that the level of sexual violence experienced by young people was particularly shocking, with 65% of those reaching 25 years old already having experienced contact sexual violence. We can now see from the figures today that for this cohort, 41% experienced violence while they were children and that 73% of the perpetrators were also children. (The equivalent figure for the over 65 year olds is 17%). The vast majority of perpetrators were male.  

 

Dr Clíona Saidléar, Executive Director, Rape Crisis Network Ireland:  

 ‘The urgency of addressing cultural, educational and institutional responses to supporting a safe childhood is beyond overstating. 

 

‘This response to sexual violence against children must see our children’s lives as a whole and in the context of the world they inherit. All too often our response has been piecemeal leaving our children dealing with mixed messages and predators with a ‘get out clause’. Sex education alone will not protect unless we also understand the different impacts of our sex differences; Consent education alone will not work unless we understand how power works and the realities of misogyny; teaching them to know their boundaries and to reach out to a safe adult alongside smartphone access and unfettered online spaces; Promoting respect and dignity do not work unless our children also understand that we are all starting from a place of inequality, privilege and discrimination.’ 

 

The task of responding purposefully, holistically and across the whole of government and society in preventing childhood sexual violence has, for the first time, been taken on within a national sexual violence strategy in the 2022 Zero Tolerance strategy. This task will be taken up by the new DSGBV agency in 2024.  

 

As with each of these CSO reports, the statistics reflect a sample from the full data set – our fuller analysis, reflection and response will only emerge over time.  

 

The SVS report is available on the CSO website 

 

ENDS 

 

Executive Director Clíona Saidléar is available for interview  

For further information contact  

Cliona on 087 2196447  

 

 

Notes 

  1. RCNI builds and sustains considerable expertise to identify, make the case for, and implement priorities for a whole-of society and Government response to sexual violence.  
  2. Subsequent CSO publications generated from this data will cover: Disclosure, Harassment and Attitudes. Previous releases covered overall prevalence and adult experiences.  

Central Statistics Office Data on Adults’ Experiences Reveal How Sexual Violence Sustains Systemic Inequality

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today released the second of six reports from its Sexual Violence Survey measuring the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland. The report on ‘Adult Experiences’ provides further detail on adult sexual violence experiences including those experienced with a partner (current or ex) and non-partner. The report also includes additional information on the sociodemographic characteristics of the overall prevalence levels.

Key findings

  • The majority of perpetrators were male – as partners 84% and as non-partners 87%
  • Around one in three adults (34%) with a third level education reported experiencing sexual violence as an adult. They were over five times more likely than those with up to a primary education (6%) to report having experienced sexual violence as an adult.
  • Bisexual and gay/lesbian people reported higher levels of sexual violence as an adult (55% and 40% respectively) than heterosexual/straight people (25%).
  • Bisexual people reported almost double the level (37%) of sexual violence as an adult with a partner compared with gay/lesbian people (19%). The equivalent rate for heterosexual/straight people was 15%.
  • People with a disability experienced sexual violence as an adult at a higher rate (30%) than those without a disability (25%).

Dr Clíona Saidléar, Executive Director, Rape Crisis Network Ireland:

‘While this data confirms much of what we know, such as that the vast majority of perpetration of sexual violence is by men and boys*, it also adds detail in significant places where we knew there was problem but did not have up-to-date data.  What the detail here tells us, over and over, is that sexual violence has a pattern, and it is rarely if ever random and indiscriminate. It is rooted deep within inequalities in our society and continues to be utilised to punish transgressions against the status quo and reinforce those inequalities. In preventing sexual violence, we must be prepared to challenge and dismantle this system of inequality based on sex, gender and sexuality as well as pursue the individual crimes.’

‘Previous research had thrown up the troubling question about whether women who have higher education and professional roles are more likely to be targeted for sexual violence. This Irish prevalence data confirms this phenomenon where 34% of those with a third level education reported experiencing sexual violence as an adult. This decreases on a sliding scale down to 6% of those with primary education. The explanation for this is less clear. Could this be because higher educated adults are engaging in different public spaces differently, starting with the Higher Education campus itself, thus increasing perpetrator opportunity, bearing in mind we know the home is also a dangerous place (64% of females subjected to sexual violence in their lifetime were subjected to at least one incident of the violence by a partner or ex-partner). Could some of the targeting of this cohort be a way to punish and discipline women in particular who are seen to have stepped ‘out of line’ in some way?  We only have to witness the sexual harassment and sexualised threats meted out to our female politicians to see this playing out.

‘The data on bisexual, gay and lesbian targeting puts long awaited solid numbers behind the particular vulnerability of non-heterosexual people.  55% of people subjected to sexual violence in adulthood are bisexual, 40% are gay/lesbian, compared with a much lower rate of heterosexual people (25%).

We also have data here on how people with disabilities have a higher prevalence, at 30%, compared to 25% for people with no disability. 28% of Irish Traveller/Roma experience sexual violence in adulthood compared to 21% of the settled White Irish population. Again, a pattern where difference, marginalisation, minoritisation and vulnerability become markers of opportunity and intent for perpetrators.

‘This data must shape how we respond to sexual violence at a systemic level, understanding it as a whole of society issue that crosses all of government, for which a collective response is the only possible option.’

The SVS report is available on the CSO website.

* Over eight in ten adults (84%) who experienced sexual violence as an adult with a partner and almost nine in ten adults (87%) who experienced sexual violence as an adult with a non-partner reported that the perpetrator was male.

‘Comprehensive and Substantial’ Sexual Violence Survey Proves That Sexual Violence Remains Endemic in Irish Society 

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today released the first of six reports from its Sexual Violence Survey measuring the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland. This is the first sexual violence prevalence report from the CSO and provides a baseline for our work from here on. As a member of the CSO’s Sexual Violence Survey Liaison Group since its establishment in 2019, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) warmly welcomes this comprehensive and substantial piece of research that embeds sexual violence firmly as a State priority. By commissioning the CSO, a State body, to undertake this vital work the Government takes responsibility for measuring the prevalence of sexual violence today and the obligation to end it. The survey measures the proportion of the population that had experienced sexual violence in their lifetime and it is intended that this data will be collected every ten years.  

Key findings 

  • Four in ten people experience sexual violence in their lifetime: women (52%) report higher levels than men (28%). 
  • Young women report (aged 18-24) the highest levels of sexual violence experienced in their lifetime at 65%. 
  • 64% of females who experienced sexual violence in their lifetime were abused by a partner/ex-partner and 48% of males. 

Levels of societal awareness of sexual violence and consent have shifted greatly in recent times. However, in spite of 20 years of policy and legal changes, sexual violence remains a reality for 52% of females and 28% of males. While we cannot say if the prevalence levels have increased or decreased as this research is not directly comparable with the 2002 Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland report, what is clear is that sexual violence is endemic and it is perpetrated throughout the whole lifecycle of people in a wide range of different environments. We also need to look at the complexities and crossovers between sexual and domestic violence and how opportunity and vulnerabilities intersect. 

While we need more research and reflection to fully understand the different life experiences of the younger and older cohort, that there is a higher level of prevalence amongst them is stark and undeniable and indicates that we must be aware of the impact of emerging forms of sexual violence. For example, we see a measure of sexual non- contact category which will be important in understanding digitally-enabled sexual abuse.  

 The prevalence of sexual violence amongst young women is particularly shocking when it is considered that their lifetime has only covered 25 years. While we must wait for subsequent reports for details on vital information on the gender of perpetrators, we know that male violence is a stark reality we need to face up to with increased commitment and determination. We need urgent action to tackle on-going misogyny and the unwillingness of a large proportion of males to view females as equal human beings as the root cause of this violence.  

Comparison in the new baseline of age is an important indicator of changes in sexual violence experiences but it is not definitive. We need to understand better what these differences are telling us. Survey findings that about half of adults who experienced sexual violence in their lifetime told someone about it are encouraging. While it appears that more and more survivors feel able to tell someone in their lives about what was done to them, there is still a long way to go before our society is safe for all survivors.  

Dr Clíona Sáidléar, Executive Director, Rape Crisis Network Ireland:  

‘It is evident that a cultural and societal shift has taken place in the last 20 years and having this vital evidence-base offers us the opportunity to reflect on where we are now and the work we now need to do. We must continue to support initiatives that confront and challenge the perpetration of sexual violence and the cultural and societal attitudes that inform it. We must also continue to provide Rape Crisis and specialist support for those affected by sexual violence. This means a funding allocation that will secure fair, survivor-centred, geographical access to sexual violence services and helplines.’  

Understanding what these figures are telling us about our culture and sexual violence will take further consideration and research and we await further reports on Adult Experiences, Children Experiences, Disclosure, Harassment and Attitudes from the CSO with interest. Says Dr Sáidléar:  

‘We must always remain attentive to survivors and their trauma, in particular when they find it hard to speak. While we have made considerable inroads in our culture to challenge the stigma that leads to victim- blaming or the belief that victims were in some way tainted by their experience, we now have new, emerging stigmas informed by pornography and a distortion of liberalised attitudes to sex that centre around accusations of being sexually unadventurous. In a world where it is at the very least uncool, if not suspicious, to have any set boundaries on our sexual lives, how do you name when a boundary was crossed? The impact of both forms of stigma is the same; minimisation and denial, which silences survivors and serves perpetrators.’ 

 The SVS report is available on the CSO websiteThe sample is a nationally representative figure and as such, minority groups were not specifically targeted within this research. Therefore, the Government and the new Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence Agency currently being developed by the Department of Justice will be engaging in more qualitative research into groups whose experiences may be distinct from the rest of the population. The data published today will be critical in ensuring resources services and responses are directed to where they are needed and to ensure that no one gets left behind.

Front page of CSO Sexual Violence Survey 2022

Statement on Cyber Attack Involving Sexual Violence Charities

Regarding the cyber attack that has impacted some sexual violence charities, Rape Crisis Network Ireland would like to assure survivors who have attended or are attending our member centres that our system has not been breached and our survivor data remains secure. RCNI members centres are:

 

Rape Crisis Network Ireland calls for an independent authority on Domestic, Sexual and Gender based violence  

On Monday January 30 2023 Rape Crisis Network Ireland contributed to a meeting with GREVIO to inform their examination of Ireland’s response to combatting Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (DSGBV). RCNI highlighted in particular the concern that there are still no plans to put in place independent monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. 

GREVIO is the international independent expert body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention (IC). This is the first and crucial opportunity for NGOs to report directly to GREVIO representatives on what they have observed that the Irish State has done, is doing and will need to do in the future to respond effectively to rising levels of DSGBV.  

Fundamental to the State response to DSGBV is Zero Tolerance, the Government’s Third National Domestic and Gender-based Violence Strategy’ published in 2022. RCNI is concerned that this strategy does not include provision for independent monitoring. We call on GREVIO to assess the need to establish such a role, like an Ombudsman for DSGBV. This post would independently monitor and scrutinise the coordination and implementation of policy and practice. It would be given powers and independence in legislation so that it can do this work without fear or interference and it would be survivor-centred and transparent. Currently external evaluation rests with frontline NGOs who are seeking to hold accountable the very bodies they rely on for funding and their continued existence.

Said RCNI Executive Director, Clíona Saidléar: 

The State has failed thus far to initiate, resource and place on a statutory footing a mechanism for independently monitoring and evaluating the implementation of policies to prevent and combat violence against women. The Istanbul Convention not only requires the securing of a coordination body such as is being devised right now, but also effective monitoring and evaluation. We have learnt many times over in Ireland, particularly around sexual violence, that leaving authorities to police themselves is bad practice. We cannot begin this new page in addressing sexual violence by replicating old and failed practices. This would be a lost opportunity in this government’s determination to transform our response to DSGBV – and for RCNI we fear a fatal flaw.’ 

Other recommendations include:  

  • Overhaul of funding: So far, the Irish State has wholly failed to put in place adequate, nationally planned, equitable and transparent funding to respond to sexual violence up to and including 2023 allocation mechanisms and additional funding under the new strategy. 
  • A dedicated strategy for the collection of DSGBV administrative data. The achieving of gold standard data collection has been a high-level goal in all national strategies to date and this has not been achieved. 
  • The development of a training strategy and curricula for mandatory initial and in-service training for all relevant professionals stipulated by GREVIO, to include the digital and gendered dimensions of sexual violence. The Convention requires these to be developed with sexual and domestic violence specialists.  
  • Improving access to justice, including the implementation of policies and provision of resources to prioritise, fast track and case manage cases involving any form of violence against women, including attempted violence, psychological and cyber violence. 
  • The removal of the Irish state’s reservation on compensation. It is a mark of shame for Ireland that we continue to exempt ourselves from offering this mark of dignity and acknowledgement to survivors as recognised under the Convention. Adequate State compensation must be awarded, proactively, to those who have sustained serious bodily injury or impairment of health, especially when perpetrated by State Actors. 

 

Notes: 

  1. RCNI and Safe Ireland’s specialist DSGBV Shadow Report to GREVIO is available here 
  2. GREVIO: the Group of Experts on Action Against Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. GREVIO comprises between 10 and 15 members, depending on the number of Parties to the Convention, and takes into account a gender and geographical balance, as well as multidisciplinary expertise in the area of human rights, gender equality, violence against women and domestic violence or in the assistance to and protection of victims.  
  3. The Istanbul Convention also known as Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence 
  4. Rape Crisis Network Ireland is a specialist policy agency on sexual violence, founded, owned and governed by our member Rape Crisis Centres. We have been serving survivors’ interests and working towards the prevention of all forms of sexual violence since 1985.  
  5. RCNI builds and sustains considerable expertise to identify, make the case for, and implement priorities for a whole-of society and Government response to sexual violence. 
  6. Article 10 of the Istanbul Convention Co-ordinating body (1) Parties shall designate or establish one or more official bodies responsible for the co-ordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and measures to prevent and combat all forms of violence covered by this Convention. These bodies shall co‐ordinate the collection of data as referred to in Article11, analyse and disseminate its results. (2) Parties shall ensure that the bodies designated or established pursuant to this article receive information of a general nature on measures taken pursuant to Chapter VIII.