Rape Victim Denied Termination

Rape Crisis Network Ireland today expressed deep concern at the trauma inflicted on the rape victim, who was pregnant after rape and sought a termination at eight weeks – and after delay upon delay resorted to hunger strike. RCNI are concerned that her human rights were effectively denied and call for immediate government action.

Fiona Neary, RCNI Director said, ‘we are appalled at the treatment of this rape victim. While not all the details are known we are clear that this rape victim was utterly failed in her decision to terminate her pregnancy at a very early stage. It is unclear what happened over the next three months that culminated in the force feeding of the young woman and the birth by caesarean section of her just viable child. What is clear is that this rape victim was not taken care of, her human rights and her choices were denied. How many more rape victims have and will be failed in this way?’

RCNI call on the government to clarify immediately
* who is responsible for finding out exactly what happened in this case,
* who were the authorities from whom the young woman sought to access a termination and
* what responses was she given?
Further, how does the government intend to take appropriate action to ensure this never happens again and when and how will the public will be informed of what gave rise to months of delays while this young woman was in contact with ‘authorities’ and requesting a termination.

Ms Neary continued, ‘statements such that ‘the new legislation will be monitored’ are wholly insufficient – this legislation fails victims of rape, including incest, who cannot access a termination in a timely and supportive manner in Ireland.’
For a link to RCNI briefing on pregnancy after rape for RCC service users https://www.rcni.ie/wp-content/uploads/RangeOfOutcomesOfSurvivorsOfRapeWhoArePregnantAsAResultOfRape2011.pdf

State Must Respect Survivor’s Right to Consent

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) asks that the state makes every effort to engage with and consult survivors before making the decision to keep their confidential Ryan Commission and Institutional Redress board witness statements.


Fiona Neary, RCNI Director said, ‘People’s consent to changes in the terms under which they gave their witness statements must be sought. Central to sexual violence is the abuse of rights and consent; the State must not now repeat this violation. If the state acts in a way that disregards the autonomy and dignity of survivors it makes a mockery of the Ryan Commission and redress process. This is unconscionable.


‘Survivors of institutional child abuse took part in the State’s inquiries into its failures on the assurance that their testimonies would not be retained. When the commission completed its work in 2009 a decision was made not to destroy those records immediately. Now the government is to bring in a new law that will allow the state to retain these records which will likely become available to the public in 75 years.’


‘There appears to be no plans to contact or consult the approximately 3,000 survivors or their families to seek their consent on issues that are intensely private and intimate to them and their experiences of abuse when they were children.


‘These survivors, betrayed as children, by institutions, authority figures and often by the state, entrusted that same state with redress and enquiry. Their trust must continue to be earned by the state and that means the state making every effort to seek every person’s consent to the retention of their invaluable witness statements so that future generations may hear their voice and guard against such betrayals of the vulnerable.’

Rape Crisis Midwest

RCNI call for action as Rape Crisis Centre serving three counties in Ireland closes for a month due to lack of funding


RCNI call for action from An Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, as Rape Crisis Midwest today announced it is forced to close for a minimum period of a month due to lack of funding. The centre provides a range of services covering three countries including providing ongoing face to face counselling for approximately 80 survivors per week.

Fiona Neary, RCNI director said, ‘for six years rape crisis services have been experiencing cuts to funding with further cuts earmarked. So far these represent up to 30% in cumulative cuts. Simultaneously RCCs have been experiencing extraordinary increases in demand for their services:

Between 2009 and 2012 RCCs have seen a:

  • 28% increase in clients accessing their counselling and support services,
  • 38% increase in helpline contacts, 1
  • 116% increase in numbers of accompaniments. 2

‘This situation is unsustainable. In the current context of decreasing public budgets it is important to put on the record that unless these cuts are reversed and additional investments made in prevention programmes, we are watching nothing less than a spectacular failure in terms of what Ireland should be doing in order to provide any meaningful response to victims of sexual violence. Sexual violence, and all forms of gender- based violence, can be addressed and can be ended. The devastating impact of crimes of sexual violence on individuals, and their families, can be greatly mitigated through expert, victim-sensitive responses. Prevention programmes can reduce incidents of sexual violence. A government which does not set-out to achieve this, through dedicated and adequate funding, is a government which fails children, women and men in Ireland. This failure is not just a failure by government, civil servants and the state, it is a failure by Irish society as a whole.

‘Rape Crisis Centres across Ireland have cut services with many closing outreaches, programmes for vulnerable populations, education programmes with young people, cutting hours and the access of survivors to the services. RCCs are increasingly dependent on volunteerism for core service provision. There is nothing left to cut. Under these continued circumstances closures such as we see in the Midwest today have become unfortunately and disgracefully inevitable.

‘RCNI estimate that funding for frontline services and national coordination, would require at least a 50% increase in the current budget for the sector of 4.5 million euro.

‘No adequate government response to tackle sexual violence in a meaningful way is possible without frontline services for victims. Indeed from 2015 onwards the Irish state will be liable to fines from the EU under the Victims Directive if these services are not in place. Perceptions that ‘reconfiguring’ of front line services can in some-way off-set the impact of year on year cuts occurring in an already resource-starved sector are misguided. Any money ‘saved’ now which results in less services, less prevention programmes and less data and analytical capacity,  will most likely cost us dearly, even before you try to calculate the cost to survivors, their loved ones and communities.’



1 This information is a comparison of the same 14 RCCs using the RCNI Data Collection System between 2009 and 2012 inclusive. It does not include Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Cork Sexual Violence Service. Reliable data for Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is only available in 2011 and 2012. No reliable data is available for Cork Sexual Violence Service.

2 As above and please note that Donegal SATU opened in 2010.

Launch of EU Agency of Fundamental Rights (FRA) Violence Against Women: EU Wide Survey

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) Press Release

5th March 2014

Launch of EU Agency of Fundamental Rights (FRA) Violence Against Women: an EU wide survey

RCNI, as the national Institute on Rape and Sexual violence and the lead national agency on data collection are delighted to be partnering with Safe Ireland, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and the National Women’s Council of Ireland today to launch the 1st Europe wide prevalence study of domestic and sexual violence ‘Violence against women: an EU wide survey.’

In light of these findings the RCNI calls on the Irish government to protect all funding to front line services and the vital support to those services which is the RCNI and Safe Ireland.

Fiona Neary, RCNI Director said, ‘This survey confirms that sexual violence against women and girls is pervasive and pandemic across Europe with 8% of Irish women saying they had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 as against the European average of 11%.

‘Since 2009 core funding for rape crisis frontline services has been cut by 16.5% with further cuts confirmed for 2014. These cuts were to a sector that was already chronically under resourced and have been so unevenly distributed that in fact the Centre with the lowest funding was cut by over 30%.  At the same time secondary sources of funding, such as public donations and programme grants have also been severely reduced or stopped.

‘Ireland must continue to build on the work that has started – the on-going cuts to services and insecurity of national data collection programmes must be addressed by the state immediately, the challenge is to build on this foundation to work alongside the RCNI and the Rape Crisis sector to create the infrastructure and the cultural change that will prevent rape and sexual violence.’

‘The research finds that women and girls in different countries have a wide variety of experiences. It is clear that prevalence studies on violence against women simultaneously measure not only prevalence but also, to a greater or lesser extent, a country’s attitude towards talking about these crimes.

‘In some EU Member States it remains a taboo to talk about sexual violence, especially sexual violence within the family. The majority of Irish women who had experienced sexual violence from a non partner who did not go to the police (48%) or any other services (66%) said this was because they would deal with it themselves or because the perpetrator was a friend or it was a family matter. Women named a very high level of fear of assault in our society (28% saying they feared assault in the past 12 months) with surprising numbers of women in work reporting harassment (55% of women experienced sexual harassment, 32% were harassed by a boss, colleague or customer).

Without concerted intervention Ireland will remain a country where women feel they have no choice but to face sexual violence alone.  Until our families, schools, health care and other institutions name sexual violence, we should not expect girls and women who are victimised to do so.’

‘RCNI calls on the Irish government to respond to FRA conclusions, that adequately resourcing responses to victims and supporting systematic evidence generation is vital. The practice of passing the responsibility for this issue to limited remit agencies and departments resulting in gaps and missed opportunities must end. Whole of government action is needed to bring about credible long-term prevention work across all age groups in all statutory settings.

For information
Cliona Saidlear

FRA, Violence Against Women: an EU wide survey, is available here http://fra.europa.eu/DVS/DVT/vaw.php 

FRA findings on Sexual Violence Occurrence Ireland Average (%) EU Average (%)
Sexual violence by a partner or a non-partner since the age of 15 8 11
Sexual violence by a partner since the age of 15 6 7
Sexual violence by a non-partner since the age of 15 7 6
Number of perpetrators in the most serious incident of physical and/or sexual violence by a non-partner3 or more perpetrators

2 or more perpetrators

1 perpetrator





Reasons for not contacting the police following the most serious incident of physical and/or sexual violence by a non-partner since the age of 15?Deal with it myself/involved a friend/family matter

Shame, embarrassment?





Experiencing any form of stalking since the age of 15
Experiencing stalking in the form of cyberstalking since the age of 15
Experiencing any form of sexual harassment:Since the age of 15

Six most severe forms*

In the past 12 months

Six most severe forms*                                               









Worrying about being physically or sexually assaulted by any
in the 12 months prior to the interviewBy someone from work, school or training

By a previous partner

By another acquaintance or a friend

By an unknown person








Avoiding places or situations for fear of being physically or sexually assaulted in the 12 months prior to the interviewAvoiding to leave the home on her own

Avoiding to be alone with a colleague or boss at workAvoiding to take certain streets or going to certain areas







* The six (out of total of 11) most severe forms of sexual harassment were considered: 1) Unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing, 2) Sexually suggestive comments or jokes that made you feel offended, 3) Somebody sending or showing you sexually explicit pictures, photos or gifts that made you feel offended, 4) Somebody indecently exposing themselves to you, 5) Somebody made you watch or look at pornographic material against your wishes, 6) Unwanted sexually explicit emails or SMS messages that offended you.

Copyright © 2012 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

One in Three Women in Europe Experience Violence – Europe’s Biggest Study

 violence against women header

March 5, 2014

One in Three Women in Europe Experience Violence – Europe’s Biggest Study

One in three – or 33% – of women in Europe say that they have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15 by a partner or non-partner, according to the findings of Europe’s biggest-ever study on violence against women carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (EU FRA).

Over one in five – 22% – have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner and 43% have experienced some form of psychological violence by either a current or former partner.

The shocking statistics reveal that women are being abused at home, at work, in public and on-line every day across the 28 EU member states.  The full statistics, including initial comparisons for Ireland, will be revealed at a seminar hosted tomorrow (March 5th) by SAFE Ireland, the EU FRA, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, and Rape Crisis Network Ireland (Mansion House, 10:15 am to 2 pm).

Patricia Prendiville, Irish Board member of the EU FRA, said: “The figures in this survey cannot and should not be ignored.  Physical sexual and psychological violence against women is an extensive human rights abuse in all EU member states including Ireland.”

The FRA survey on violence against women is based on face-to-face interviews with 42,000 women, including 1,500 Irish women, aged between 18 and 74.  The women were interviewed in their own homes.   The survey is the most comprehensive worldwide on women’s experience of violence.

The survey also reveals that over half of all women (55%) have experienced some form of sexual harassment with one in three victims saying that the perpetrator was a boss, colleague or customer.  One in three women – 33% – have childhood experiences of physical or sexual violence at the hands of an adult.

For more information contact: Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207


RCNI welcomes the double life sentence of man convicted of the rape of two children

RCNI welcome the sentencing of the 30 year old man convicted of the rape of a child in Athlone last September in the Central Criminal Court by Judge Paul Carney today.

Fiona Neary, RCNI Executive Director said, ‘RCNI welcomes Judge Carney’s sentence of this man and his statements on the issue of  mitigation –  today a very serious sexual offender was given a very serious sentence. RCNI thoughts are with the children and their families and hope they get the support and privacy they need now to continue healing and to face forward.


‘Many people will ask “how will these children cope”– it is important to know that recovery is possible. The children were believed when they told, they were listened to, they were immediately embraced with love, care and support. They were helped immediately, including through specialist support. Today justice was delivered and the girls know that nothing was their fault. All of these steps support recovery.


‘A life sentence is appropriate in the most serious incidents of sexual violence crime, including exceptional cases where there is an early guilty plea. This is such a case. A life sentence equips the State to do everything in its power to keep the community safe from those who would pose a danger. With a life sentence the state can now monitor and supervise this relatively young offender for the rest of his life, should parole be agreed in the future.’


For more information

Cliona Saidlear

087 2196447​


Rape Crisis Network welcomes Judicial Education in sexual violence cases as reassuring for victims of rape

Fiona Neary, RCNI Executive Director today said: “We very much welcome that the judiciary in Ireland have ongoing judicial education which includes both legal and personal issues around rape and sexual assault. The information today from the Courts Service is reassuring for any victim of sexual violence considering whether or not to report.”

“Uneven sentencing or  judgemental statements about a victim of rape can have devastating impacts not only on one victim, but all victims. When deciding whether or not to report, victims want reassurance that the legal system understands the impact of rape and other sexual violence crimes.”

“The courts service information includes that in the past decade there have been many examples of training in the area of sexual violence in on-going judicial training. It is well recognised at EU level that knowledge of the effects of sexual violence and its impact on victims is vital information for the Judiciary. The EU Directive on the rights of victims of crime includes, at Article 25, an instruction that each country request that those responsible for the training of judges…make available both general and specific training to increase the awareness of judges….of the needs of victims. Given the specific characteristics of sexual violence, this training has to include specialist input, to have any real positive effect for survivors.”

For information:
Clíona Saidléar
087 2196447

Young people and sexual violence: Government failing to prevent rape and sexual violence while alcohol gets offenders off the hook.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald this morning (28th Jan 2014) launches new Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) research on Young People, Alcohol and Sex, undertaken by Pádraig MacNeela and his research team in NUI Galway.

Fiona Neary, RCNI Executive Director said, ‘This report tells us that without Government action rapes that can be prevented will continue to occur.  The findings are so shocking that the government must immediately take action to prevent further sexual violence. Therefore  RCNI today also launches ‘The Older Child and Sexual Violence: Questions and Challenges in delivering a national response,’ which is a pathway for our government to address the serious gaps and failings in the protection of older children from sexual violence.

This research is relentless in demonstrating young people’s inability to talk about sex, never mind negotiate consent. The young people who took part in this research told us they were wholly unprepared for the task of negotiating sexual consent and thus were at risk of sexual violence. Naming crimes of rape and sexual violence remains very difficult for young people, other than in a far too narrow, uninformed manner. Growing up in a binge drinking culture for young Irish people means that reporting crimes and concerns to the appropriate authorities is rarely seen as an option – leaving young sex offenders free to reoffend causing trauma and lifelong harm to others.

Decreasing sexual violence is possible and our strategy document shows the way. This will only happen however with sustained resources and actions, in combination across Government agencies. There is little evidence of this at present in relation to the older child.

At today’s seminar Dr. Pádraig MacNeela’s will present the stark findings of his research. We are delighted to have with us one of the most published authors on the area of sexual violence and alcohol Dr. Antonia Abbey, from Wayne State University, Michigan, to further guide us in international evidence and best practice. After which Rape Crisis Network brings to you our reflections on the policy implications of this and previous research.

The Full Report, Summary of Findings and Recommendations and RCNI Policy Document will be available on www.rcni.ie after 10am on the 28th January 2014


Findings of ‘Young People, alcohol and sex: What’s consent got to do with it?’ Padraig MacNeela, Thomas Conway, Siobhan Kavanagh, Lisa Ann Kennedy, & John McCaffrey, NUIG, 2014

For young people in this study:

  1. Consent is understood to be predominantly unspoken.
  2. Consent is expected to follow a highly gender stereotyped, heterosexual relationship model, with the male sex urge occupying an especially prominent position alongside a gate keeping female role.
  3. Alcohol consumption is understood to be a facilitator of the majority of sexual hook ups.
  4. Victims are expected to react in a highly uniform and passive way.
  5. Sexual violence that was other than vaginal rape of a female by a male was difficult to name.

Key Recommendations:

  1. Improve preparedness for negotiating consent through youth targeted engagement strategies to encourage the knowledge and skills required for applying the understanding of consent to a range of relationships and types of sexual activity.
  2. Promote a better understanding of alcohol as a source of risk and harm.
  3. Improve knowledge and attitudes to reporting sexual assault and seeking professional support.
  4. Support for a ‘decision point’ approach to managing consent to develop a skill-based approach for managing problematic consent situations.

Lowering the Age of Consent would compound State failures to protect the older child

Rape Crisis Network Ireland today strongly suggests to the Cabinet that it is not timely to consider the lowering of the age of sexual consent. The State continues to fail to meet its obligations to protect and empower children.

Fiona Neary, RCNI Executive Director said, ‘RCNI read with dismay today that the Cabinet is to discuss lowering the age of consent to sexual activity today (17th Dec. 2013) from 17 to 16. RCNI are opposed to lowering the age. The age of consent is there to protect vulnerable children from coercion, pressure and abuse. The age of consent is not designed or used to punish teenage respectful experimentation.

‘Sexual experimentation and relationships between children are commonly far from benign. In RCNI’s latest report, Hearing Child Survivors of Sexual Violence we found that 37% of the perpetrators of sexual violence against children were themselves children. These child perpetrators were near or of the same age as their victims.

‘When we live in a culture obsessed with protecting our children from the less common stranger danger and the older predator, it leaves the child being threatened and abused by a peer isolated and vulnerable. Already we struggle to empower these vulnerable children to even name their experiences of sexual violence in the face of an increasingly sexualised culture and the complicity of so many commentators and leaders who characterise these exploitations as romantic. In the face of these gross failures, the age of consent is one of the paltry supports we offer our vulnerable older children.

‘Lowering the age of consent may simply undermine the State and the justice system’s capacity to respond to these crimes.

‘RCNI would respectfully suggest that before consideration of lowering the age of consent the government might consider its statutory obligations in terms of supporting, protecting and empowering children, in particular, the neglected older child.

‘RCNI call on the Cabinet to consider urgent action on addressing the vulnerability of the teenage child. With insufficient resources, time and commitment our education system does not equip children to engage safely, within our cultural context, in respectful sexual relationships. Within the proposed new junior cycle even the little we have is to become an optional short course. There are no national guidelines or action plans to address sexual harassment and assault in our schools. There is no prevalence study of the everyday assaults and harassment teenagers are subject to by their peers. Specialist support structures are inadequate and under resourced. The nascent Child and Family Agency, Rape Crisis Centres and CARI services are not adequately resourced.

‘The State has turned a blind eye to the specific needs of the teenage child. To contemplate lowering the age of consent with so little done or said to address their vulnerability would be to compound this neglect.

‘RCNI continue to support the Minister Alan Shatter’s stance which he articulated in 2006 regarding the age of consent. In the Oireachtas Committee Report on Child Protection in 2006, lowering the age of consent was the only recommendation of 62 in total that did not receive the unanimous support of the Oireachtas Committee, it is therefore appropriate in our opinion that it would remain un-actioned.’