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Monday 22 January 2018

Half of Irish women have been sexually harassed

Cliona Saidléar, of Rape Crisis Network Ireland, has concerns
Cliona Saidléar, of Rape Crisis Network Ireland, has concerns
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Half of Irish women experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives, while one in four has been victims of physical violence, according to a major new report.

Data from 56 different agencies funded by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, was used in the report which collated information from rape crisis centres and other services.

But the report, the first of its kind in Ireland, provoked a furious backlash from the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) last night.

The RCNI raised concerns about the content and accuracy of sections of the report, as well as data protection issues.

The Tusla findings include:

  • One in four adults have experienced physical or sexual assault;
  • Almost 25,000 adults who experienced domestic violence received support from domestic violence organisations last year;
  • More than 2,000 women and families, including 2,600 children, were supported in refuges in 2015;
  • More than 3,000 adults and nearly 200 children who experienced sexual violence were supported in rape crisis centres;
  • In 2015, nearly 30,000 people received help via face-to-face services, outreach services, accommodation and helpline services;
  • Over one in 10 adults using face-to-face supports were men;
  • Almost a quarter of families made homeless in March 2016 cited domestic violence as a cause of homelessness.

Tusla said the document represented the first stage in a major information project on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. It hoped the data can help improve agencies' responses.

Joan Mullan, a national manager at Tusla, said: "The numbers in the report are not just data, they are the summary of the real life stories of the adults, children and families that frontline services work with."

However it is understood the RCNI had requested the report not be published and has now taken legal advice in relation to its concerns about the data.

RCNI director Cliona Saidléar said: "We have questions and concerns around the veracity of the figures and how they are presented.

"We have conveyed these concerns to Tusla and were very surprised to see this report published, following the concerns we've raised. We cannot stand over these figures."

A Tusla spokeswoman confirmed it had met RCNI several times, including this Wednesday, to discuss the concerns.

"While we are happy to take feedback on board we are satisfied that our data collection methods and processes meet all required standards including compliance around data protection," she said.

Irish Independent

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