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Saturday 17 March 2018

Rape Crisis Centre wants definition of consent in bill

Justice Minster Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minster Frances Fitzgerald

Sam Griffin

A Definition of consent to sexual activity should be included in the forthcoming Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, according to the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI).

The general scheme and heads of the bill have already been published and the group has welcomed that it is in line with the European Victims Directive.

The network will today host an information seminar on the bill which will include contributions from experts in the field including the Children's Ombudsman Dr Niall Muldoon and RCNI legal director Caroline Counihan.

Ms Counihan says it is "essential" that consent is defined in legislation to allow for the capacity to challenge "the denial and minimisation" of victims used to silence those affected by rape and sexual violence.

"RCNI is advocating for a positive definition of Consent to Sexual Activity to be included in the Bill," Dr Counihan said.

The group says the wording of the definition should be similar to that adopted in England and Wales in their 2003 Sexual offences Act.

This states: "A person consents if he agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice".

The network's director Clíona Saidléar said the new bill had come about through survivors of abuse engaging with the justice system.

She added that in addition to the changes in the bill, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald must work to deliver justice for the 80pc of all sexual violence victims who never report attacks to gardaí.

"The significantly silenced voices of those who remain outside the justice system and their right to justice continues to be a challenge that this government must address," she said.

The seminar takes place this morning in Buswell's Hotel in Dublin and runs from 10am to 1.15pm.

Irish Independent

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