Rape Crisis Network Ireland today welcome the launch of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality Report on its hearings into Sexual and Domestic Violence which makes a number of important recommendations.
Clíona Saidléar, RCNI acting Director said, ‘the committee’s recommendation that the justice and support response to sexual violence should be specialised is very welcome. Giving survivors of sexual violence a just and appropriate response requires specialists at every point, from the Gardaí, to the support worker, to the medical response, and the courts. We urge both those in leadership and stakeholders to commit to this goal to preserve the specialisation that currently exists and is often under threat and to build it where it does not.’
Caroline Counihan, RCNI Legal Director said, ‘RCNI are particularly pleased to see the committee recommend that the right of the accused to cross examine the victim personally in court should be qualified in sexual violence cases. We have seen the absence of this qualification impact on some of the most vulnerable victims of sexual crimes and unacceptably permit the traumatising of victims by their alleged perpetrators within our justice system.
Clíona Saidléar went on to say, ‘RCNI also strongly welcome the committees assertion that the age of consent to sex should remain at 17. This question has been considered numerous times over the past decade, despite the fact that at no point has there been a consensus or willingness to lower the age of consent. The position taken by this committee has been arrived at upon examination of the evidence, and the purpose and function of this legal instrument in light of the reality of the teenage child’s vulnerability in today’s society.