Inaugural seminar of RESPECT Network, an all-Ireland initiative Promoting Safe Relationships in Higher Education towards addressing sexual violence

 

Today (25th Nov. 2016) RCNI are delighted to participate alongside our partners, in publicly launching the RESPECT Network at our first public conference in Newry’s, Canal Court Hotel. The RESPECT Network is an ongoing and growing collaboration between academics, students and relevant agencies in a concerted initiative to respond to and address sexual violence in the higher education experience across the island of Ireland.

 

Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Executive Director said, ‘we want all people in 3rd level education and particularly young people to experience an empowering and safe learning environment. That environment should be free from the threat or risk of sexual harassment and violence.

 

‘The public launch of the RESPECT network is an exciting next step in the work to prevent sexual violence, to build a resilient and safe learning environment and culture and to ensure responsive authorities supporting those communities.

 

‘Working together with the Universities across Ireland, academics and staff, the student bodies and NGOs we believe we can support that environment where healthy relationships flourish. Where there is victimisation it is vital that the community and all authorities respond appropriately in ways that empower and respect survivors.’

 

Notes:

RESPECT is a collaborative research network of academics, students and third sector organisations from the North and South of Ireland. Our aim is to promote safer relationships for ALL by creating a starting point for future collaborations and research.

RESPECT is interested in three streams:

  1. Prevalence: Identification and extent of risk behaviours within relationships and associated outcomes.
  2. Prevention: The promotion of positive relationships. Including topics such as consent and the development of appropriate skills.
  3. Policy: Developing and evaluating policies for higher education and other organisations.

 

Visit our Facebook page on RESPECT Network and twitter @RESPECT_Net website will be going live today where you can find the list of collaborators and outline of full aims and objectives of the three streams (http://www.respectnet.org/)

The conference is entitled Promoting Safe Relationships in Higher Education and is being held in the Canal Court Hotel. Speakers include Prof. Janet Beer, Vice Chancellor of University of Liverpool, Prof. Bill Flack of Bucknell University USA, Dr Pádraig Mac Neela, NUIG, Dr Louise Crowley UCC, Dr Cherie Armour, Ulster University, Philip McCormack Cosc, Dr Clíona Saidléar RCNI, Helen Bracken, Nexus NI and many others.

 

For information

Cliona Saidlear on 087 2196447

 

Rape Crisis Network Ireland welcomes the clarification from the Supreme Court regarding the definition of consent in sexual violence law

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) today welcomed the clarification from the Supreme Court regarding the definition of consent in sexual violence law (Director of Public Prosecutions -v- O’R) and reiterate our call for a positive definition of consent to be included in our law. RCNI argue again that a defence of a belief in sexual consent should be based on the objective reasonableness of the belief rather than an honestly held belief alone.
The Supreme Court’s clarification that the standard expected for an acceptable defence of belief in consent does not have room for uncertainty is also very welcome. Thus any uncertainty on the part of the defendant as to their having consent at the time means that that this defence is not available to them. The existing law on recklessness set this standard and we welcome the clarification.
We would say to the Tánaiste Fitzgerald in light of this ruling and as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill goes to Committee stage in the Oireachtas that there now does not appear to be any impediment to including a positive definition of consent. Indeed we would contend this clarification of the law as it currently stands would offer reason to introduce a positive definition of consent.

For further information

Clíona Saidléar

087 2196447

RCNI strongly welcomes the return to the Dáil of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill and is hopeful that it will include a definition of consent

RCNI strongly welcomes the return to the Dáil of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill this week by An Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD, and is hopeful that it will now be possible to amend this Bill to include a positive definition of consent to sexual activity.

If it is not, RCNI urges the introduction of such a definition with the minimum delay. Defining consent in our criminal law will help set a clear standard of behaviour that distinguishes sexual violence from legitimate sexual activity, for prosecutors, juries, victims and other witnesses in court, and also for the whole community outside court.

Caroline Counihan, RCNI Legal Policy Director said, “Our rape crisis centres are well aware of the damage caused by sexual violence to children. There is much here to commend.

RCNI also welcomes the inclusion in this Bill of much-needed new offences, and amendments to existing offences, to combat the scourge of child pornography. Caroline Counihan added that “a large part of this violence against children begins with “grooming” behaviours which do not always fit in to the existing categories of offences. The laws must fit the realities of today’s childhood. The introduction of a new offence of grooming of children including grooming via social media and otherwise through the use of information technology is very welcome.

Furthermore, RCNI is very much in favour of the introduction of a statutory regime, through which our judges will be able to regulate the disclosure of victims’ personal counselling records in criminal trials. For the first time, there will be a right to object to such disclosure and it is important that the relevant procedures work properly for victims. The survivor- therapist relationship is one which supports healing and recovery. It is a relationship of trust where survivors can find a uniquely safe space to talk about intimate, personal and perhaps frightening matters.

With regard to the special measures in the Bill to support child victims of sexual violence in Court, RCNI urges our legislators to extend these supports to all victims of sexual violence. This group of especially vulnerable victims deserves both to be protected from further trauma and to be enabled to give their best evidence, as far as possible.

 

For information

 

Caroline Counihan

Office mobile: 087 963 5201

E-mail: caroline.counihan@rcni.ie

 

Notes:

  • RCNI, founded by Rape Crisis Centres in 1985, is a specialist information and resource centre on rape and all forms of sexual violence. Rape Crisis Centres provide free advice, counselling and support for all survivors of sexual violence.

RCNI encourages new government to enact the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) attended yesterday to the SPACE international event in Buswells hotel as part of their work towards ending sexual exploitation, support their call for the prompt enactment of Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015.

RCNI is a long standing member of the Turn Off The Red Light (TORL) campaign, whose legislative calls to protect those sexually exploited and to empower the state to address those who do the exploiting are included in the far ranging 2015 Bill.

RCNI continue to call on Tánaiste Fitzgerald to reconsider the lack of a definition of consent in the Bill, a word that has been used in many sections of the Bill but remains undefined. Establishing in law a clear standard of behaviour that distinguishes sexual violence from sexual activity would help prosecutors, juries, witnesses, survivors and their communities.

RCNI also call for the amendment, which victim support organisations collectively called for to section 33 on the disclosure of sensitive and private records in an investigation, to be introduced. At the last reading this vital amendment to protect victims was referred to the Attorney General for advice.
Finally, RCNI strongly urge the Tánaiste not to miss this opportunity to extend the special measures for criminal evidence laid out for children victims of sexual violence, to all vulnerable victims including adults.

 

For information

Clíona Saidléar

087 2196447

 

Notes:

  • RCNI, founded by Rape Crisis Centres in 1985, is a specialist information and resource centre on rape and all forms of sexual violence. Rape Crisis Centres provide free advice, counselling and support for all survivors of sexual violence.
  • The RCNI believe the introduction of hate crime legislation in Ireland for sexual harassment and sexual bullying would improve protections for women, men and children. RCNI endorses and supports the report of the Hate and Hostility Research Group at the University of Limerick and the growing partnerships calling for this gap in our laws to be addressed.

Launch of the first national RCNI report on LGBT survivors of sexual violence attending Rape Crisis Centres

This is a key tool for responses, policy and strategies to fight hate crimes against the LGBT community.

Today Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone launched the RCNI statistical report Finding A Safe Place: LGBT survivors of sexual violence and disclosure in Rape Crisis Centres, which highlights vulnerabilities and the need for safe places for LGBT survivors and a safe and open conversation about the issues.

Clíona Saidléar, head of RCNI said, ‘worryingly, LGBT survivors can take up to twice as long to report the crime compared with their straight counterparts. They also rely much more on friends and partners and less on parents and family than straight people do. These two findings suggest the potential isolation and the added difficulties survivors who are also LGBT face in reaching out and seeking support. This and other findings in this report should act as a catalyst for action to policy makers, to service providers and to community leaders to transform responses towards creating greater safety for LGBT survivors.’

RCNI also welcome their partners Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), and Gay Switchboard Ireland in helping to launch this report and bringing forward the learning from this report.

Odhrán Allen, Director of Mental Health at GLEN said, “It is clear there is a lack of awareness of the problem of sexual violence both in the LGBT community and among the general public. This report will underpin efforts by voluntary and statutory providers to support LGBT people who have experienced sexual violence and to promote reporting and help-seeking. A critical next step will be the introduction of hate crime legislation that will protect LGBT people from violence and harassment motivated by homophobia, biphobia and transphobia”.

Adam Shanley, Director of Gay Switchboard Ireland said, “This report is an important effort in focusing attention on the issues that face LGBT people in a post-marriage equality Ireland. Discussion about sexual violence in the community is so far to the margins it is all but invisible. At Gay Switchboard Ireland we want to make talking about sexual violence safe for the LGBT community. The report has prompted us to hold a community discussion with stakeholders across the LGBT spectrum on the topic as an opportunity to start the conversation.”

RCNI concluded, ‘Survivors’ facing multiple disadvantages often remain voiceless as their risks when disclosing may be higher. The unique RCNI collective data system is sometimes their only safe way to be heard and to be counted. RCNI calls on the government to place value on this platform for the silenced and fund it again so that this first LGBT report may not be the last.’

Key findings:

  • In 2013, 88 LGB survivors (4%) of sexual violence attending 15 RCCs for counselling and support identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB).
  • Please Note Transgender survivors who were using the services in 2013, weren’t included in the statistical analysis due to the numbers being too low to safely do so. Notwithstanding, this is a report informed by the transgender users of RCC services and pertinent to transgender people and all those concerned with LGBT rights.
  • LGB survivors disclosed higher levels of multiple incidents of sexual violence than heterosexual survivors (26% compared to 15%).
  • GB males disclosed almost twice the levels of rape of heterosexual males (63% compared to 34%)
  • LB female survivors disclosed higher rates of abuse by male and female perpetrators abusing together (10%) than heterosexual females (2%).
  • 47% of LGB survivors waited over ten years to report the abuse compared with 21% of heterosexual survivors who took the same length of time to report.
  • 25% of LGB survivors disclosed first to a friend compared to 12% of straight survivors. 28% disclosed to parents or other family against 39 % of heterosexual survivors.
  • All LB survivors who became pregnant as a result of rape terminated the pregnancy.

Notes:

homepage – Rape Crisis Network Ireland<https://www.rcni.ie/>
www.rcni.ie<https://www.rcni.ie>
Presents all aspects of sexual violence with information for women, men, survivors, and supporters with contact details for all rape crisis centers in Ireland.

  • Gay Switchboard Ireland’s community discussion chaired by Adam Shanley takes place at 6:30 pm in Old Chocolate Factory, 26 Kings Inn St, panellists include, Odhrán Allen (GLEN), Broden Giambrone (TENI) Anne Scully (RCNI), Lynne Cahill (TCD).
  • This report is based on data from 15 rape crisis centres in 2013. Statutory funding was removed from the RCNI Data, Knowledge and Information System through which that data was collated in 2014.
  • RCNI, founded by Rape Crisis Centres in 1985, is a specialist information and resource centre on rape and all forms of sexual violence. Rape Crisis Centres provide free advice, counselling and support for all survivors of sexual violence.
  • Gay Switchboard Ireland is 41 years supporting the community, making it the oldest LGBT+ support service in Ireland. For more information:  http://gayswitchboard.ie/

  • GLEN, founded in 1988, is a Policy and Strategy focused NGO which aims to deliver ambitious and positive change for LGBT people in Ireland. For more information:  http://www.glen.ie/

ENDS

RCNI Administrator Job Vacancy

Job Title:                                RCNI Administrator

Location:                                National Office, Dublin City Centre

Responsible to:                      RCNI Executive officer

Part time:                               3 days per week

Salary:                                    HSE Clerical grade IV €25,752 – 42,891

This post is funding dependent

Enquiries to director@rcni.ie

Post cover letter and cv to:

Cliona Saidlear

RCNI

30 Merrion Sq.

Dublin 2

 

Closing date: 30th May 2016

Interviews will be held the week of the 13th of June

 

RCNI is the specialist sexual violence institution charged with a strategic role in creating change towards ending sexual violence in Ireland, improving responses to survivors of crime and holding perpetrators to account. We are owned and governed by our member Rape Crisis Centers.

Introduction

The purpose of the Administrator post is to ensure the smooth running of the national office by undertaking administrative and financial duties, and to work as a member of the RCNI staff team towards achieving the aims and objectives of the organization

Summary of Main Responsibilities

  • Public Relations
  • Maintenance of the office
  • Maintenance of information systems
  • Provision of administrative support
  • Providing administrative and financial support to RCNI programmes
  • Monitoring finance and budget preparation
  • Participation in RCNI team meetings
  • RCNI Registrar.

Duties

  1. Public Relations
  • Ensure that all incoming communications are processed
  • Ensure that requests from member groups are received and dealt with directly, or passed on to the appropriate member of staff.
  1. Maintenance of the office
  • Maintain of the office equipment
  • Monitor and order materials, office goods and services
  • Ensure that incoming mail is received, sorted and distributed and outgoing mail is prepared for dispatch
  • Manage day to day running of office, including Health & Safety premises issues.
  1. Maintenance of information systems
  • Support accessible systems for information storage and retrieval and ensure that staff can use them
  • Co-maintenance  and updating of RCNI website with team
  • Maintenance of a Sectoral database of contacts
  • Assist in maintenance of RCNI Programmes
  • Maintain Registrar of RCNI Trained and Accredited Counsellors.
  1. Provision of administrative support
  • Contribute to fundraising activities through the development of budget proposals
  • Assist with the co-ordination of the Annual Report
  • Circulate papers for meetings and other documentation to members, within agreed time frames
  • Keep records of membership, Board of Management members, advisors, and ensure the organization’s legal documentation is maintained and various registration obligations are up to date
  • Assist with event management of RCNI events, including public meetings, conferences, training events, AGM, committees
  • Assist with booking of accommodation and venues board meetings and events.
  1. Monitoring finance and budget preparation
  • Implement systems for monitoring and recording petty cash and cheque payments
  • Reconcile incoming invoices, make payments and issue receipts
  • Prepare bank transactions and reconciliations
  • Process salary and expenses payments
  • Prepare cash flow and financial projection charts
  • Prepare all RCNI accounts for annual audit purposes
  • With the Director, prepare budgets and budget monitoring reports on financial matters for the Board of Management.
  1. Participation in supervision and in RCNI team meetings
  • Write reports for and attend  supervision sessions with the Director
  • Participate in team meetings
  • Contribute to operational planning in the organisation.

Other Duties

  • Any other duties that from time to time may be appropriate

 

Person Specification

The successful candidate will be energetic, enthusiastic, co-operative and with a high level of professionalism and attention to detail and deadlines in their approach to their work

 

Essential elements

  • An appropriate third level qualification or equivalent experience in financial administration and information technology.
  • Excellent IT skills – excellent spreadsheet skills, website maintenance, MS Office Skills, database maintenance, knowledge of computerized financial systems (including sage) an advantage
  • Minimum 3 years experience of office administration and preparation of financial information for management purposes
  • The ability to collect, evaluate and interpret financial data, and present management accounting information in an appropriate format
  • The ability to use initiative to work methodically with minimum supervision, often under time pressure
  • The ability to prioritise workload, and at times assist in the administrative workload of other staff
  • Effective communication skills, particularly the ability to explain technical and financial information in an accessible way
  • A demonstrable understanding of the issues affecting women and children who have experienced violence in the home
  • A commitment to the ethos of the organization.

Desirable Elements

  • Evidence of professional bookkeeping technician level training or qualification

RCNI calls on the next government to take action to make it “Safe to Learn” thus ensuring the safety of young people from sexual violence in secondary schools

RCNI Press Release 20th February 2016

RCNI calls on the next government to take action to make it “Safe to Learn” thus ensuring the safety of young people from sexual violence in secondary schools

All children and young people should have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment. Safety includes freedom from the threat, fear or fact of all forms of sexual violence, and there is a statutory obligation to ensure same; however, we are currently not meeting that obligation.

RCNI’s 2016 Manifesto outlines three steps necessary to meet these obligations:

  1. Introducing a national policy for all secondary schools of proactive, zero tolerance towards sexual violence
  2. National guidelines and policy for schools to fully support victims and alleged abusers in schools
  3. Comprehensive, mandatory best practice curriculum content

Dr. Clíona Saidléar, Strategic & Programme Executive, RCNI said, “Our work in rape crisis centres working with child survivors proves that sexual harassment, threat, fear and indeed sexual assault is experienced by children in our schools. Unfortunately, no research exists to define the scale and extent of this problem; instead we are relying on the individual testimony of children and young people attending rape crisis centres.

“Therefore, the next government must urgently build an understanding of the challenge that exists, while supporting schools to proactively address the issue. And we must also empower children through effective, evidence-based interventions.”

Dr. Saidléar said, “School communities need to explicitly promote zero tolerance of sexual harassment and violence. In the absence of a zero tolerance approach, the RCNI analysis is that a comprehensive sexual violence policy is lost between the Action Plan on Bullying, which fails to address sexual harassment and violence (bar cyberbullying), and Children First, which addresses how individual incidents are effectively reported to and handled by the authorities but does not prevent them from happening in the first place. We must do all we can to prevent crimes of sexual violence, from happening, and we have a duty to our children to ensure that they are safe to learn.”

“We fear that in this absence, what children learn is to minimise, laugh off, deny, or indeed to tolerate sexual violence, either as a perpetrator or target.”

Secondly, RCNI is clear that post-primary schools face significant challenges in responding to the complex support and care needs of child victims and indeed child perpetrators in their school community, which are inadequately addressed in Children First. Given the centrality of the school community in a teenager’s life, national guidance needs to be put in place to assist schools to support child victims and aggressors, reducing instances of secondary trauma and preventing negative impacts on their school performance. This will support an appropriate justice response through Children First actions.

Thirdly, RCNI’s 2014 report, Young People, Alcohol and sex: What’s consent got to do with it?[1], a qualitative study of college students’ understanding of sexual consent and alcohol consumption demonstrated that young people themselves concluded that they lacked preparedness to negotiate consent safely, leaving them vulnerable to sexual violence.

Dr. Saidléar said: “Curriculum content needs to address consent, and we very much welcome the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence’s commitment here, but urge consideration of how the “safe to learn” goal can be met when curriculum content of such importance remains optional. Making schools safe to learn must be a government-led priority for any incoming Minister for Education.”

END

RCNI’s election manifesto can be found on https://www.rcni.ie/wp-content/uploads/RCNI-Manifesto-Final.pdf

 

[1] Young people, alcohol and sex: What’s Consent got to do with it?, Padraig Mac Neela, NUIG, 2014

RCNI PR – grooming and teenage sexual exploitation

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release

 

12th January 2016

 

Our ambiguity about sex can create opportunity for sexual exploitation

 

Today, upon the sentencing of a 26 year old man for online grooming and defilement of a 15 year old girl, the RCNI draw attention to our attitudes to teenage vulnerability to sexual predators.

 

Clíona Saidlear, head of RCNI said, ‘the grooming of children, including teenagers, for sex is a serious offence. Grooming is a weapon that most cruelly uses the victim against themselves. A predator in grooming seeks to make the victim active and blameworthy of the crime being committed against them. It is critical that we challenge grooming by ensuring we consistently identify and condemn grooming, placing the blame where it belongs, on the predator.

 

RCNI welcome the new offences of online grooming which are being brought in under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015. This much anticipated Bill which is in the Seanad again this Thursday before moving to the Dail, is now urgently needed to bring our laws up to date with changing technology and opportunity for predators.

 

Ms Saidléar continued, ‘In order to support vulnerable young people we must be clear about the difference between non-abusive behaviour and grooming. We must not shy away from naming sexual exploitation and our duty to intervene and protect, under due process, for fear of offending or seeming overbearing. We can lessen a predator’s opportunity to sexually exploit a child, and empower the child targeted in this manner, if we are clear on these issues.’

 

Ends

 

Further information

Clíona Saidléar 0872196447

RCNI welcome EU Vicitms’ Directive transposition as a good day for survivors but cautions on inadequate resourcing

RCNI welcome EU Vicitms’ Directive transposition as a good day for survivors but cautions on inadequate resourcing.

Today, the 16th of November, is a historic day for survivors of sexual violence as the European Victims’ Directive comes into force in Ireland putting significant extra obligations on the Irish State in what RCNI describe as a ‘win win’ situation.

Clíona Saidléar head of Rape Crisis Network Ireland said, ‘today marks a historic moment in transforming our culture and responses to sexual violence survivors and all survivors of crime so that they are supported and respected, in joined-up ways, both inside and outside the justice process.

‘This Directive gives all survivors, whether they report the crime or not, a set of additional rights. These rights include a right to access free and specialist support services such as Rape Crisis Centres which must now be adequately funded. Importantly under this Directive, survivors will have these additional rights whether they choose to report the crime to the authorities or not. We must now ensure survivors are informed, at the earliest possible opportunity, about what is theirs by right.

‘We call on government to ensure our capacity to meet survivors’ needs in the manner obligated by the Directive. We continue to engage with the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald and her team who are finalising the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2015 but we also urge the Minister to pay attention to the resource implications of the Directive as we fear current allocations are inadequate.

Caroline Counihan, RCNI Legal Director said, ‘addressing delay and training is what is going to make this Directive really work for survivors. No matter whom survivors interact with, from first responders right through the criminal justice system, they should receive a consistent and excellent response from that person or agency, one that hears them, respects their rights and dignity and works professionally and diligently to meet their needs. 

‘What we know is that treating survivors well means better investigations, survivors staying with the criminal justice process and ultimately more perpetrators held to account. This is a win win change for victims in our legal system.

‘With this Directive we are essentially moving to a criminal justice system where the victim has   additional rights which neither  the  State nor the person accused will be able to ignore, in the course of investigative and court proceedings. These rights should reduce the levels of fear and re-traumatisation experienced by victims of sexual violence as they go through each stage of the criminal justice process, and for this reason also are very much welcomed.

Notes:

·         Link to the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32012L0029&from=EN

·         Rape Crisis Centres have seen their funding cut by up to 30% over the years since 2008

·         RCNI funding from Tusla was cut in its entirety by Tusla in 2015. That money has not been redistributed to centres.  Centres have not received funding to support the policy, standards, training and guidance requirements upon then to be compliant with the law and contract conditions, neither have they received resources to collect data in the manner required of them by the funder (Tusla), all of which were previously supported by the RCNI for member centres.

·         A significant increase in demand on services is anticipated from the directive being implemented with much more effective referrals from all agencies, so far there is no indication from the funder or government that there will be a corresponding increase in funding.

 

Ends

For information

Clíona Saidléar

0872196447