Monday 19 February 2018

'Rape is only caused by rapists' - Dublin Rape Crisis chief says sexual assault victims should not be made to feel responsible

Newstalk show host George Hook Photo: David Conachy
Newstalk show host George Hook Photo: David Conachy

Sasha Brady

The Chief Executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has called on the media to rethink how it reports and comments on rape.

Following the controversial comments George Hook made on his Newstalk radio show on Friday about an ongoing rape case in the UK, Noeline Blackwell said the media should introduce guidelines on the topic of rape.

Speaking on RTE's This Week, Ms Blackwell said Mr Hook had to be "called out" on the comments he made because "people are outraged and we in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre are outraged."

Mr Hook has apologised for the comments he made in which he questioned the "responsibility of women" when discussing the case of a 19-year-old woman in the UK who alleges she was raped by a member of the British swimteam when she had gone back to a hotel room with his friend.

The young woman alleges that she was raped by the swimmer when he entered her room after she had consensual sex with his friend.

Ms Blackwell said that Mr Hook's comments are damaging and could deter rape victims from reporting the crime or from seeking help.

"A lot of times we would have people coming to us saying it has taken us days, weeks, months to say it," she said.

"In a case where somebody might be questioned about why it happened to them, that they might be blamed for being part of the crime rather than the victim of the crime, in those cases it might restrict some people in coming forward."

Ms Blackwell said she wanted to remind people "that it is not your fault".

"Rape doesn't happen because of what you're wearing, because of the amount of you've had to drink - rape happens because somebody has sex with you without your consent.

"Rape is only caused by rapists carrying out these offences and these criminal acts," she said.

Ms Blackwell called for a sensitive, standard media protocol around the discussion of rape.

On Saturday, Mr Hook issued a statement saying he wanted to "apologise unreservedly for comments" he made about rape.

"It was unacceptable to suggest in any way that blame could be attributed to victims of rape. I apologise for the comments which caused hurt and offence, and for this I am truly sorry."

Newstalk's Managing Editor, Patricia Monahan said that comments made were "totally wrong and inappropriate and should never have been made."

If you have been affected by this issue you can contact the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 778 888

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