RCNI PR 5th June 2020
Sexual Violence Survivors in Direct Provision are facing serious barriers to support.
RCNI today asked the Minister of Justice & Equality, Charles Flanagan, to ensure survivors of sexual violence living in Direct Provision accommodation can access lifesaving support from their local Rape Crisis Centre.
Currently all access to rape crisis support is done remotely. Where there is internet and phone poverty survivors often cannot speak privately with Rape Crisis Centres (RCCs) and their Counsellors. This is a particularly acute problem for asylum seekers and refugees living in direct provision, compounding already barely tolerable conditions.
Clíona Saidléar, Rape Crisis Network Ireland Executive Director said:
“We are highly concerned for the wellbeing of these survivors. In the Covid context, online and phone access are more important than ever. These vulnerable survivors often do not have their own phone but need to borrow one for phone calls. They may only have access to phones that work on public WiFi, so struggle to make private calls. Our clients’ privacy is at risk every time we make a call.’
These are all barriers from engaging fully or at all in much needed specialist support. Some of the solutions are simple, such as a Rape Crisis Centre being able to pay for phone credit for the survivor.
‘All over the country Rape Crisis Centres meeting their clients’ needs, enable access to specialist rape crisis support in ad hoc manners, whether that is paying for a taxi fare or phone credit or, particularly during Covid, putting together a care package. This expenditure is currently problematic under statutory funding. This is why we are asking the Minister to allow for this discretionary spending by Rape Crisis Centres to ensure access for this vulnerable population currently in the care of the State. It is unacceptable that these survivors’ only formal access to ad hoc support of this nature means they are having to disclose their traumatic history of sexual violence to the Direct Provision staff and the Community Welfare Officers.’
RCNI Report: Asylum seekers and refugees: surviving on hold (2014)