"Lack of understanding of sexual consent" impacting Irish rape trials 5 months ago

"Lack of understanding of sexual consent" impacting Irish rape trials

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said the need for reform is "urgent".

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has welcomed new research which underlines the need for reform across several areas in the operation of Irish rape trials.

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The report, which comes from Dr Susan Leahy of the University of Limerick, examines the way in which Irish rape trials are run and it offers evidence-based recommendations for reform.

For instance, the report found that a "broad lack of understanding of sexual consent" had an impact on rape trials. Additionally, the study underlines the need to address the juries' knowledge of consent in rape trials.

The study also found that reforms are needed to address legal advice and representation for complainants in rape trials.

On top of that, the research highlighted the ways in which rape trials focus on the complainants' other sexual experiences as well as the use of their counselling records.

Noeline Blackwell, the CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, welcomed the paper's findings and added that a "reform of the system" is needed.

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She said: "DRCC welcomes the research which adds considerably to our understanding of the reality of sexual offence trials. It points clearly to the need for a dedicated reporting system which would go beyond media and headline reports, but would report on the totality of cases.

"The report shows that reform of the system is urgent and essential if the rights of all those involved are to be recognised.”

Dr Leahy, meanwhile, thanked the legal professionals and court accompaniment workers who contributed to the study.

"Their views offer an invaluable insight in to the practical operation of the laws and procedures relating to Irish rape trials," she said.

"Developing our knowledge of how the current law is operating in practice is vital in order to understand whether recent reforms are achieving their intended objectives and to identify outstanding issues which need to be addressed within the system."

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The report is available to read in full on the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre's website.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, support is available. The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre can be reached on 1800 77 8888.