No Excuses: Justice Minister's concern at sex offence reporting
The Justice Minister has said he is "concerned" about under reporting of sexual offences as he launched a campaign raising awareness of sexual harassment.
The 'No Excuses' campaign will run over the next three years in response to what Charlie Flanagan has described as "disturbingly high levels" of sexual-related harassment.
The ads will start playing over various media including TV this evening and will feature a range of scenarios including in the workplace, in a bar and in a locker-room.
They feature sexual harassment, unwanted sexual activity as well as attempting to prey on someone not in a position to give consent.
Mr Flanagan said the aim of the campaign was to make people question their responses to such incidents which he said are "endemic" in society.
He also raised concerns about under reporting of sexual offences in Ireland, even though recent figures show that Ireland has the highest level of claimed sexual harassment in Europe.
"I'm concerned that there is an under reporting for a number of reasons. I'm very keen that that changes. People who are in positions of vulnerability, people who are abused, people who are subjected to harassment should be comfortable in reporting.
"We have on a daily basis, on a nightly basis, behaviour which is unacceptable, often times it goes without comment, often times it's unfortunately and regrettably taken for granted," Mr Flanagan said.
"Research has shown that Ireland suffers from disturbingly high levels of sexual harassment.
"These ads highlight and help people recognise these behaviours and the many precursors to them," Mr Flanagan added.
Recent figures from WIN International show that 32pc of Irish women between the ages of 18 and 34 have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the past 12 months - the highest in Europe.
The number of alleged sexual offences is also increasing with 3,182 reported last year, an increase of 26pc compared with 2017.
Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said the ads show non-consensual behaviour which is "wrong behaviour".
"What this is aiming to do is try and have a debate in our society which says 'How do we behave reasonably and decently with each other?'.
"I think even those of us who don't engage in that behaviour ourselves, who recognised that it's wrongful, we all have to be careful that we are in solidarity with people who are hurt by it."
In recent months gardaí have made a number of major advancements in the area of assisting vulnerable victims.
Ten Divisional Protective Service Units have been rolled out in various parts of the country since last year and focus on specialised crime types, including sexual crime, child abuse and domestic abuse.