VICTIMS OF SEXUAL assault have to wait an average of almost three years to see their attacker sentenced in cases where charges are brought, according to the Rape Crisis Network Ireland.
In a guide which explains to survivors of sexual violence about the legal processes involved in seeking justice, the organisation advises survivors who make the decision to report sexual abuse to the authorities that criminal prosecution can take “a long time” to complete.
“Research has found that the average length of the criminal process from reporting stage to sentencing is 33 months,” the guide advises.
The report, the Guide to the Legal Process for Survivors of Sexual Violence, is written from the perspective of the survivor and aims to offer a guide through the legal system. The guide explains the process of reporting a crime to the Gardaí, the investigation by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the courts process.
The report states that sexual violence was “very common” in Ireland, with 42 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men reporting the experience of some form of sexual violence in 2002.
Despite its prevalence, survivors of sexual assault do not always choose to report the crime. “Taking the step of disclosing sexual abuse to someone can be one of the most difficult choices that any person could take… It is even more difficult to make the decision to disclose the abuse to the Gardaí and many survivors choose not to do this.”
The report’s author Aisling Wall said that just 30 per cent of survivors who attend services at a Rape Crisis Centre report their assault to the Gardaí.