Sunday 24 June 2018

'Rape list' incident in toilets of school described as 'shocking'

'Where are these boys getting the message that this is okay behaviour?' - Rape Crisis Network Ireland

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Ralph Riegel and Denise Calnan

An incident in which a so-called 'rape list" was posted in the toilets of an Irish school has been described as "shocking" by the director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI).

RCNI director Clíona Saidléar expressed concern that any young man should “think threats to rape are a joke”.

"This incident leaves many questions," she said.

The 'rape list', which resembled graffiti, was posted in the male toilets of Davis College in Mallow, Co Cork and asked people to place a 'tick' beside the name of a number of young women included on the list.

Shockingly, the list then advised that the young woman who garnered the greatest number of 'ticks' beside her name would be targeted for a sexual assault.

"The ones with the most ticks is going to get raped," it read.

All those whose names were included on the list are minors.

The young women listed are all students at the school. The issue has now been referred to the gardaí.

One source indicated that the young women were very upset by the resultant publicity it has attracted.

Speaking further on RTE Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Ms Saidléar said she does believe the school's response to the issue has been "quite reassuring".

"It is shocking," she said.

"But the first thing to say is that the school response is quite reassuring."

Ms Saidléar said the incident would have an impact on the whole school community, not just the girls named on the list.

"Every single girl in that school would have received a message in relation to that list," she said.

"And the boys [in the school]... they have also been let down by the behaviour."

She continued; "At this point we have having a very public conversation about sex and men and women and how they exchange and seek out sexual relationships.

"There is a realisation that there is a problem. We have work to do about how young people understand their responsibility, and how they understand their own sexual needs and how they relate to another human being in terms of that and how they respect another human being.

"The challenge with this is, and I sympathise with the parents not wanting us to focus on this school and these boys and these children.

"We have to be careful [in our discussion] and widen it out. Young people are testing our boundaries and waiting for our response.

"The challenge is for us to support these children now, but to make sure we are really clear about the line we are drawing."

Ms Saidléar said society also needs to hear male voices in the discussion and from male role models.

"Where are these boys getting the message that this is okay behaviour?" she asked.

Reaction

One parent at the school, who is not connected to any of the young women on the list, contacted Cork's RedFM to express deep shock at what had happened.

Davis College stressed that it is taking the matter very seriously. It added that it was aware of only one such list - but it is investigating suggestions there may have been two other previous lists.

“The safety and well-being of all of our students is our top priority," Principal Stephen Gilbert said.

"We are taking this issue extremely seriously, and immediately took steps to address it with both the affected students and student body at large."

"This work is continuing. The list was removed the minute we were notified of its existence and we spoke to each of the young ladies mentioned to answer any questions or concerns they had."

"We encouraged them – as we encourage all of our students – to come to us with any issues that may be of concern so that we can support them in any way possible."

It is understood an internal review is underway and, if the person or persons who compiled and posted the list are identified, they will face disciplinary action.

Mr Gilbert said every support is now being provided for the young women involved and their families.

"There has been a spotlight nationally on this topic in recent weeks," he said.

"In keeping with our ethos of caring for all our students and in light of public and media conversation, we wish to make sure that this issue is addressed among all of our students."

"Our S.P.H.E. (Social, Personal & Health Education) teachers will be facilitating discussions on this subject with every class."

"We want students and parents to know that we will continue to provide a safe learning environment for our students."

"We remain available to all parents and students who may have concerns in relation to this issue,” he added.

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