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CSO to carry out new national survey on sexual violence ... says it may take five years

It’s been 16 years since the Savi – Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland – report, was published.

Image: Shutterstock/Wayne0216

THE CENTRAL STATISTICS Office (CSO) has been requested by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to oversee the development and delivery of a second major national study on sexual violence in Ireland.

It’s been 16 years since the Savi – Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland – report, was published. Earlier this year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar committed to conducting another report.

Over the weekend, the minister said he expects the survey to begin next year, stating that it should be completed within 18 months. 

However, CSO director general Padraig Dalton said today that “given the complexity and sensitivity” of the survey, it is envisaged that the entire process of scoping, planning, executing and reporting on the survey may take in the region of five years. 

He added that the exact timelines will only emerge as scoping progresses. 

“The provision of reliable, robust, objective and internationally comparable information requires that the planning and execution of this survey is undertaken in a professional and comprehensive manner,” Dalton said. 

“To do otherwise may compromise the quality of the resulting data,” he said. 

Careful planning is also required to ensure that the data collection model also ensures the privacy and safety of the respondent’s and those collecting the data. 

The cost of the report will be in excess of €1 million.

The SAVI report in 2002 detailed the prevalence of sexual violence in relation to age and gender of over 3,000 adults. It focused not only on the responses of those abused but also on the attitudes and perceptions of the general public to sexual violence.

The new report will carry out a comprehensive examination in respect of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

While the issue was included in the 2002 report, it was only a small subsection of the survey.

This new review will include an entire module on sexual harassment in the workplace and look at whether Ireland has adequate protections in place to protect employees.

CSO involvement

The CSO has now been charged with undertaking this work. 

The first stage, Dalton said, will involve the CSO scoping a means of collecting this sensitive personal data in a manner which is confidential, ethical and designed to support accurate and reliable survey results. 

“In doing so, protecting the privacy and supporting the needs of all involved must be a priority,” Dalton said. 

He added that conducting this type of highly sensitive survey is a challenging departure for the CSO. 

In order for the data to be robust, very explicit questions regarding behaviours associated with sexual violence may have to be asked of a number of respondents

“As a result, the design and implementation of this survey will require specialist expertise and training,” he said.

“It will involve consultation with key stakeholders and consideration of best practice from international statistical organisations regarding appropriate collection methods as well as identification of the skills, training and structures that may be required to support data gathering in this sensitive area.” 

One in Four has today welcomed the commissioning of the survey. 

It said that while it would have liked to have a report immediately, it understands that such complex research may take up to five years to complex. 

“I hope that this research will show that incidence of sexual violence has fallen, and that we will be able to change our name from One in Four to One in Five or even One in Six,” One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis said.

With reporting by Christina Finn

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