Saturday 22 October 2016

‘Perpetrators are out there seeking vulnerable people on Tinder’ - Warning over dating apps as sexual assaults rise 33pc

Published 12/01/2016 | 11:51

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has seen a dramatic 33pc rise in the number of sexual assaults and rape reported to the service in the first eight months of 2015,

Online dating apps such as Tinder facilitate sexual predators and should be avoided, according to a spokesperson from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

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CEO Ellen O’Malley revealed the organisation has seen a dramatic 33pc rise in the number of sexual assaults and rape reported to the service in the first eight months of 2015, which could be related to the rise in popularity of online dating apps in Ireland.

“I think it’s really important for people to know how dangerous it can be because you have perpetrators who are out there seeking vulnerable people and that site is an extremely dangerous, or can be, an extremely dangerous site for people to access another person just to have sex,” said Ms O’Malley speaking to RTE Radio One’s Sean O’Rourke.

“You can have perpetrators who are seeking to abuse another.”

While the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre can not identify whether online dating apps are directly related to the increase, Ms O’Malley revealed that victims are unlikely to reveal whether or not they met their attacker online.

“People are going on the Tinder website specifically to have a sexual relationship with another outside the realms of any other type of relationship and that is very concerning.

“You can imagine if someone is ringing our helpline for support, they’re not going to say to us that they’ve been raped by somebody they’ve met on Tinder because they would be very ashamed about that. The last thing you would want to get into is victim blaming no matter what the situation is,” Ms O’Malley said.

When asked whether she would advise Irish people against using the online dating apps and websites, Ms O’Malley said: “I would”.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre representative stressed that sexual awareness and the topic of consent should be included in SPHE programmes in secondary schools throughout the country.

“We know from research that young boys are accessing pornography from the age of 9 and before they have a relationship they’re about 16,” she said.

“You have seven years where they’re at a very crucial developmental stage and this is the kind of thing they’re watching. They’re becoming desensitised. They don’t see the other person as a person.”

“We would say to secondary schools in particular that the SPHE programmes around the country should get young people together to talk about these things.

“It’s so important that young people talk about what could happen when they access these sites. It’s important to talk to children about their developing bodies in a way that’s educational and that will help them be prepared for these types of situations,” she said.

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