THERE has been a marked increase in the incidence of sexual violence against women in the mid-west region, a conference was told yesterday.
Organised by the Mid-Western Health Board, the conference heard that during the period 1999-2001 there have been 277 reported sexual assaults in the mid-west, a 78pc increase over previous years. During 2001, there were 41 incidents of sexual violence reported in Limerick, 62 in Clare and 18 in north Tipperary.
Official garda statistics show that while sexual violence has increased, there has been a reduction in the level of reported incidents of domestic violence. The most recently published crime figures show that in 2001 there were 111 reported incidents of domestic violence in Limerick alone, with 70 in Clare and about 35 in north Tipperary. This represents a decrease of 8pc when compared to the previous year.
Sarah Togher, Health Board Regional Co-ordinator of Services for Violence Against Women, said: "The Rape Crisis services regionally tell us only 15pc of the cases they work with will actually report the incident to the gardai.
"The recent Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland Report, undertaken by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, shows that 42pc of Irish women experience some form of sexual abuse during their lifetime.
"The fact that many women feel that services are incapable of responding to their needs was a major concern in the 1997 Task Force Report.
Posted by Colm at November 26, 2002 12:38 PM
"Health care personnel can often be perceived as being primarily concerned with the welfare of children with the result that women fear their children will be removed from them if they seek assistance in respect of their own experience of domestic abuse," she said.