RCNI Welcomes the Third National Strategy on Domestic Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

RCNI welcomes the launch of the Third National Strategy on Domestic Sexual and Gender-Based Violence 2022-2026 by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee. This government and Minister McEntee have demonstrated a commitment to addressing sexual, domestic and gender-based violence and as such, we have high expectations for this strategy, which is our first since ratifying the Istanbul Convention in 2019.

Dr Cliona Saidléar, RCNI Executive Director said,

This strategy is a step change in our approach. For the first time a government is approaching the subject with the belief that change is possible rather than finding better ways to live with the intolerable.  We particularly welcome the commitment to a dedicated and specialist DSGBV agency. For too long DSGBV has fallen between agencies and departments, which has led to a lack of oversight and understanding of the issues, and resulted in gaps in responding effectively.  

We also particularly welcome that for the first time the National Strategy on DSGBV including children, including the role of the Ombudsman for Children in these child-focused actions. We look forward to working more closely with his office. 

The commitment to survivors to secure and increase the diversity and responsiveness of services and supports to meet their needs is very welcome and needed. Rape Crisis Centres throughout the country are currently operating far beyond capacity and resources and demand is ever growing.’ 

RCNI conducted research into services in July 2021 and found that there were 967 survivors on waiting lists for counselling at 16 Rape Crisis Centres, with some centres reporting waiting times of over one year and one centre closing its waiting list as waiting times were over 2 years.  

In the last 10 years we have seen a 100% increase in contacts to Helplines.* The first year of the pandemic alone saw a 22% increase in the number of contacts to some RCCs.* 73% of contacts to Rape Crisis Centre Helplines receive no state support. In the absence of government funding, we are grateful to the many volunteers and donors who make this work possible.  

Saidléar continued:

‘The step change evident in this third National Strategy must also include a step change in levels and sustainability of funding to services working with victims of DSGBV, alongside national planning and development which will see all survivors having equitable access to best practice services no matter where they are in the country. We look forward to working with the Minister and her department and partners across government and the community in driving this new strategy forward.’ 

* This figure includes the 6 RCCs who use the RCNI Data Collection System to collate their Helpline data. RCNI Rape Crisis Statistics 2020, p 3.