RCNI release new report: Asylum seekers & refugees surviving on hold

October 28th 2014

Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) release new report:
“Asylum seekers and refugees surviving on hold, sexual violence disclosed to Rape Crisis Centres in 2012.”

• “significant reforms urgently necessary in Direct Provision system”
• “many survivors of sexual violence seeking asylum in Ireland…… have not found a haven”

Judge Catherine McGuinness officially launched the report today at the Royal Irish Academy. Other speakers included Anne Scully (RCNI Chair) and Dr Clíona Saidléar (RCNI Acting Director), a number of representatives from the asylum seeker and refugee community were also present.
The report presents findings on asylum seeker and refugee survivors of sexual violence who were using Rape Crisis Centre (RCC) services in 2012. Amongst the findings were:
• The population experienced high incidents with multiple abusers, 52% as opposed to 11% for the general population,
• Security forces represented 46% of perpetrators of sexual violence against this population,
• For 40% of this population the sexual violence lasted for years,
• And for 5% the sexual violence was perpetrated within rebel/government camps,
• For female survivors, 14% became pregnant as a result of rape and 67% of these girls and women are now parenting the children.
Of urgent concern this report identifies the Direct Provision system and living conditions as both exacerbating these survivors’ trauma and creating vulnerability to additional sexual violence.
The report also takes a closer look at barriers this population faces in accessing support to address often high levels of need:
• For 32% of Rape Crisis clients from this group the counselling ended because the survivor was moved and could no longer access the centre,
• Rape Crisis Centres noticed referral dropping off as community and professional supports to this population, particularly those living in Direct Provision, was curtailed,
• Reluctance to disclose to a Community Welfare Officer in order to secure the resources to attend an RCC eg to fund transportation, child minding, missed meals.
Anne Scully, RCNI Chair said, ‘Unfortunately, for many survivors of sexual violence seeking asylum in Ireland, many of whom have experienced multiple and prolonged violence, they have not found a haven. Instead, many of the provisions we have in place and the terms under which this population lives can increase distress and vulnerability for these survivors and their families. We need to ensure our asylum process delivers safety and supports survivors to begin their journey of healing.’
Clíona Saidléar, RCNI acting Director said, ‘This report provides clear evidence that significant reforms are urgently necessary in the Direct Provision system to halt the risk of sexual violence to vulnerable residents and minimise the psychological harm to survivors.’
‘The Irish State has an obligation under international human rights instruments to insure that refugee and asylum seeker survivors of sexual violence are protected from discrimination and have access to care. However, we have found that these survivors’ access to rape crisis supports through outreach, innovation and community partnerships, have been eroded by continual cuts since 2008.’
Key Recommendations:
• Reduce time within which people live in Direct Provision;
• Reform Direct Provision to make it safe and secure, for survivors of sexual violence, and from sexual violence:
• training for staff;
• independent complaints system;
• women-only accommodation;
• decreased use of shared facilitates.
• Psycho social support for survivors;
• Psycho-social support for families;
• Resources to facilitate access to supports;
• Asylum seeker and refugee engagement in building responses.

The full report can be downloaded at www.rcni.ie/

Notes:
• All statistics are from the RCNI Database©

28th October 2014