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Teenage rape case underlines vulnerability to sexual violence due to drinking culture

A teenage boy was jailed today for the rape of a 15-year-old girl at a house party in Dublin last year.

Image: infomatique via Creative Commons/Flickr

THE RAPE CRISIS Newtork Ireland (RCNI) has welcomed the conviction of a teenage boy for the rape of a 15-year-old girl, saying the shocking case underlines young people’s vulnerability to sexual violence in a binge drinking culture.

The boy (now aged 16) was today sentenced at the Central Criminal Court to six years detention with the final three suspended for raping an incapacitated 15-year-old girl at a house party in Dublin last year.

Fiona Neary, RCNI Director, said the case highlighted the need for the government to respond to the vulnerability of young people in a binge drinking culture.

Neary noted an increasing number of teenagers accessing the RCNI’s services, and said there was “clear evidence that Ireland’s binge drinking culture leaves teenagers vulnerable to sexual violence”.

Vast majority of rape cases involve alcohol

Referring to the case, Neary said that for “just €5 each the teenagers at this party could get drunk and high” and noted that the vast majority of rape cases in Ireland (80 per cent RAJI) involve a victim and perpetrator who have consumed alcohol.

The Rape and Justice in Ireland (RAJI) study found that in 10 per cent of rape cases the complainant was completely incapacitated by alcohol. By and large (74), like in this recent case, it was a friend or acquaintance that committed the rape against their incapacitated friend.

Neary said the frequency of binge drinking in Ireland is the highest in Europe, with 44 per cent of Irish respondents who had consumed alcohol in the past 12 months indicating that they had been binge drinking at least once a week (Eurobarometer 2009).

“Patterns for youth alcohol consumption in Ireland echo adult patterns: 42 per cent of boys and 44 per cent of girls aged 15-16 reporting binge-drinking during the previous month. This consumption pattern and its impact, combined with victim blaming attitudes can leave many young people very vulnerable to sexual violence,” she said.

RCNI called on the government and the new Minister of State with a responsibility for alcohol, Alex White, TD, to act on measures outlined in the National Substance Misuse Strategy, including the minimum pricing and the marketing of alcohol to begin to address the “crisis” of binge drinking in Irish society.

Successful prosecution ‘rare’

Neary noted that a successful prosecution in this type of case was “rare” due to the worrying impact of alcohol consumption. ”Incapacity due to alcohol consumption is often the reason someone is targeted for sexual violence, not only because they are considered easier to rape but because they may have poor memory of the details of the crime,”she said.

“In addition sexual predators in our society benefit from popularly held beliefs that girls and women who drink are partly to blame for being raped.”

RCNI has a blog on alcohol violence and sexual violence

Read: Judges ‘need guidelines’ for sexual assault sentencing>

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