70pc of sex victims 'had drunk 12 units of alcohol'
Published 03/02/2014 | 02:30
More than seven in 10 alleged victims of sexual assault who attended the country's busiest treatment unit had consumed the equivalent of six pints of beer.
They had drunk an average of 12 units of alcohol in the 12 hours before the attack, the annual report of the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin revealed.
The Department of Health says that women should not drink more than 11 units of alcohol over the course of a week.
And 59 of the 318 patients were unsure whether a sexual assault had taken place because of memory loss due to alcohol.
The revelations in the 2012 report follow last week's controversy over remarks by veteran 'Cosmopolitan' magazine agony aunt Irma Kurtz, who said women should not get drunk around men they don't know because it puts them at risk of sexual assault.
The 78-year-old drew the wrath of many people in Ireland and in the UK after saying that "drunkenness" tears away a woman's self-defence and it amounted to "carelessness".
The Rotunda now houses the longest-running sexual assault treatment unit in Europe. Its report reveals it treated 318 patients over the year – 288 women and 30 men.
The unit can treat the alleged victim for injury and give emergency contraception as well as collecting forensic evidence for use in any criminal prosecution.
The findings showed:
* Most patients (84pc) presented within seven days of an incident of sexual assault, with four disclosing long-term abuse.
* The report said that 63pc of patients were seen between the hours of 9pm and 8.59am, which underpins the need for a round-the-clock service.
* Patients ranged in age from 13 to 78 years.
* The majority of patients (84pc) were single.
* Eight in 10 reported a single assailant, and 116 said the attacker was a stranger. In 29 cases, the alleged assailant was reported to be an intimate (or ex-intimate) partner, and in an additional 12 cases, they were reported to be a family member.
* Of the 318 patients attending the unit, 63 (20pc) had not reported the incident to gardai.
All patients were offered follow-up screening for sexually transmitted infections: 282 men and women accepted this offer, but only 212 actually attended for screening.
The Rotunda unit is now one of six sexual assault treatment units around the country, with centres also in Cork, Waterford, Mullingar, Galway and Letterkenny.
"Similar to every healthcare setting in this country, we remain limited by both head count and funding restrictions," said the report.
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