The launch of Rape Crisis Network Ireland’s statistics for 2022.

Presentation and analysis of the data by RCNI’s Elaine Mears, presentation by Helen McGrath from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office and Diogo Costa from the European Institute for Gender Equality who spoke about the prevalence of sexual violence across Europe.

Zero Tolerance, the Government’s Third National Strategy to combat Domestic Sexual & Gender Based Violence, was launched in 2022. Whilst the strategy contains much to be welcomed – including the establishment of a statutory agency under the Department of Justice – RCNI is concerned that there is no independent monitoring element included. On Thursday 4 May, RCNI began a conversation on what an independent monitoring body could look like in the context of DSGBV. We asked if an Ombudsperson role, a rapporteur or some form of statutorily protected champion is desirable to inform our work across government activity combating DSGBV.

To do this, we drew on the expertise of those who have experience in these various independent roles in Ireland: Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, Professor Conor O’Mahony, former Special Rapporteur on Child Protection and Professor of Constitutional Law and Child Law at University College Cork and Emily Logan, Commissioner of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. These three speakers feed into our knowledge on the key requirements of the role and what action can be taken to establish it legally and institutionally, exploring what independent monitoring means and how it works in practice and helping us towards the next steps in ensuring that today’s unprecedented determination to transform DSGBV is secured into the future through systemic mechanisms of transparency and accountability.

Patterns of contact with rape crisis services are changing but patterns of abuse stay the same is the message of Rape Crisis Network Ireland’s Rape Crisis Statistics 2021 report. This year’s report examines data gleaned over three years – 2019, 2020 and 2021 – to track the story of how survivors and services negotiated the upheaval of the Covid pandemic. The launch features Dr Cliona Saidlear, Executive Director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI), Elaine Mears, RCNI Data and Privacy Manager and Bernard Gloster, CEO of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The report is available to download here.

On Tuesday 7 June, 2022, Croatian-based organisation The Women’s Room (Ženska Soba), in collaboration with Rape Crisis Network Ireland, delivered a webinar on ‘Sexual Violence in War’. The Women’s Room is a Croatian feminist, non-profit, civil society organisation established in 2002. It provides direct services to victims of sexual violence including survivors of sexual violence as weapon of war. It aims for the prevention and combating of all sexual violence as well as promotion and protection of sexual rights.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland launched ‘Breaking the Silence: Terminology Guidelines for Data Collection on Sexual Violence against Children’ on Tuesday 22 February 2022. The event featured contributions from Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Inclusion and Youth Roderick O’Gorman, Biljana Brankovic, member of GREVIO, the independent expert body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) and Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children. Breaking the Silence is available to download on the Rape Crisis Network Ireland website here.

On Thursday 7 October Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) released its Annual Statistics 2020 report. RCNI represents seven Rape Crisis Centres around Ireland and collates annual statistics on who is accessing RCC helplines, appointments, and accompaniments, why they are using services, and what kinds of sexual abuse they have been subjected to. Download the report here.

Early intervention in children’s lives is the strongest commitment we can make to prevention and protection from sexual violence. Understanding the experience of adolescents is the first step to shaping interventions that work.

On Thursday 29 July Rape Crisis Network Ireland launched its new report ‘Storm and Stress: An Exploration of Sexual Harassment Amongst Adolescents’. This vital report fills a critical gap in our knowledge regarding adolescent experiences of sexual harassment, explores Irish adolescents’ understanding of sexual harassment within their peer communities and outlines the responses required to address it. The report was launched by Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon and Dr Conor O’Mahony, Government Special Rapporteur on Child Protection in an online event that included a presentation by Dr Michelle Walsh, author of the report, and a panel discussion on how we, as a society, can disrupt the processes through which adolescents become the victims and perpetrators and repeat victims and perpetrators of sexual harassment. Download the report here

ISL: Bernadette Ferguson and Lisa Harvey