Waiting list for rape support
There is a waiting list for Wexford Rape Crisis services for the first time since the centre was established in the county over 20 years ago due to increased demand from people reporting current and historic sexual abuse.
The pressure on Wexford Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Service was highlighted by Cllr. George Lawlor at a Joint Policing Committee meeting of Wexford County Council.
The Labour councillor called for the issues of sexual abuse and domestic violence to become 'headline' topics of discussion by the Council after Garda Chief Superintendent John Roche also reported an increase in incidents of domestic violence in County Wexford with the gardai now handling 500 reported cases a year.
'The Rape Crisis Centre which runs services in Wexford, Gorey, Enniscorthy and New Ross is reporting a waiting list for counselling despite having recruited more staff,' said Cllr. Lawlor who told his colleagues that a schools survey carried out by the centre shows that inappropriate sexual conduct has become normalised in some quarters as a result of drinking at home and the degree to which young people can access pornography on their mobile phones.
'The actions of some young people nowadays are far more serious than they were 20 years ago.'
He said sexual assault and domestic violence tended to be kept under the radar and it was time that these issues were openly addressed by the Council.
'I've been attending Joint Policing Committee meetings since their inception and not once have I heard the term sexual assault mentioned,' he said. 'It's time we started headlining the issue and putting it on the radar.'
'This is the first time that the Rape Crisis Centre has a waiting list. I understand that they are also receiving reports of historic crimes. It's time we started screaming about this.'
Cllr. Lawlor said that so long as sexual assault wasn't openly discussed there will always be perpetrators out there who feel they can get away with grabbing a female or sexually assaulting a female.
'Can I ask this forum here and now that we start talking about domestic violence and start talking about sexual assault,' he said, adding that Wexford Women's Refuge turned away hundreds of women and children last year because it doesn't have adequate accommodation to cater for everyone who needs services.
Cllr. Michael D'Arcy said one of the issues is the number of unreported cases. 'We do need to highlight more that these cases must be reported. When they go unreported, it means more of it will occur.'
Chief Superintendent Roche said he agreed 'one hundred per cent' with Cllrs. Lawlor and D'Arcy and said he would provide a break-down of sexual assault and domestic violence statistics at the next JPC meeting in May.
Cllr. Lawlor asked if it would be possible for a representative of the Rape Crisis Centre to be invited to attend