Justice Minister defends time frame of sexual violence study

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan has defended the length of time it will take for the completion of the new National Sexual Violence Prevalence Study.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) will commence work shortly on the study which comes 17 years after the last report of its kind (the SAVI report) was published.

“This is an important piece of work, that’s why there is this time frame. Over 5,000 people will be interviewed,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

Orla O’Connor of the National Women’s Council said that it was important that the State was taking responsibility for data, but in the end it will have been 21 years for the updating.

We believe the State can do better. Is it a question of resources? That’s a long time to wait.

Mr Flanagan said that the time frame was the estimate of the CSO, but that the issue of the length of time could be reviewed.

He said that as Minister it was important that he be fully informed by best practices and the only way he could do so was with the proper data. He added that he believed sexual violence had been underreported which was why a number of reviews were ongoing.

One of the reasons for under reporting, he said, was because of the “off putting” experience of going to court. He had commissioned a report from Tom O’Malley of UCG which he expected to receive in a few weeks that will have recommendations that will not require legislation.

Earlier on Newstalk Breakfast the Minister said that sexual violence was a scourge on society. It was as important as legislators to make every effort to ensure the “scourge” is tackled.

“We need information to do that.”

The study by the CSO will involve “hundreds of questions” being asked “in a sensitive manner” of 5,000 people, he said.

Once the framework is established similar studies can be done every decade.

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