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Statement by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD on publication of final instalment of CSO Sexual Violence Survey results

Statement by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD on publication of final instalment of CSO Sexual Violence Survey results

Last week the sixth and final instalment of the CSO sexual violence survey results were published.

The Government is acutely aware of the need for robust data on the prevalence of sexual violence in this country, which is why in 2017 we requested the CSO to develop and undertake a nationally representative survey to provide high quality data on sexual violence in Ireland.

Over the last year, the CSO has published a series of data sets which provide us with empirical evidence for the scale of the problem of sexual violence in Ireland.

Many of the figures and statistics in this study are shocking – the number of victims amongst us, the relationship of perpetrators to victims, the disclosure rates. 4 in 10 people in Ireland have experienced sexual violence – 5 in 10 women and almost 3 in 10 men.

I am conscious that behind each of these data sets are people who have suffered at the hands of someone else.

Some 500 people made a disclosure of experiencing sexual violence for the first time through this survey and I’d like to commend their bravery in speaking about their experience. I am very grateful to each and every person who took part in the survey, revealing personal experiences, beliefs and attitudes on a subject that has, for too long in Ireland, not been discussed openly and frankly.

While much of the data makes for uncomfortable reading, it provides us with a clear indication of the true extent of the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland. This really underscores the importance of a whole of Government, whole of society zero tolerance approach to addressing DSGBV. It also underscores the need for the establishment of the dedicated DSGBV agency which I expect to be operational by January 2024.

We now have a baseline against which to measure the impact of our work across Government, as well as to help us develop targeted policies, awareness campaigns and to provide the necessary supports and services.

We knew that this was an area that tended to be underreported and that the numbers we have had up to now did not reflect the true extent of the problem. It is underreported for a myriad of reasons, not least by some because victims feel that they won’t be believed or that they are in some way to blame for their own experience.

I am speaking directly to every victim when I say that you are not to blame for your experience. No victim of sexual violence is ever to blame, the perpetrator is. And as for the fear that you won’t be believed, we must blame the societal culture that has for too long overlooked and accepted sexual violence and the problematic attitudes and behaviour that underpin it.

I encourage anybody who has been the victim of any kind of sexual violence to come forward, report to An Garda Síochána and seek help. You will be believed and you will be supported.

I would like to thank the CSO and their staff for undertaking this significant survey and for ensuring that it was designed and conducted in a way that was victim and trauma sensitive. As part of the implementation of our Zero Tolerance Strategy we have committed to working with the CSO on a domestic violence prevalence survey. It is our intention that both surveys will be repeated at regular intervals to underpin and inform policy and service delivery on an ongoing basis.

The data collected will inform policy in several areas, including justice and equality, health and social service provision to survivors, education and children.

Notes to editors:

The CSO’s sexual violence survey results are published at: