MARY CRILLY of Cork Sexual Violence Centre has welcomed the publication by higher education institutions (HEIs) of their Action Plans aimed at ending sexual violence and harassment.
The Action Plans were requested by Minister Simon Harris last year and will be available for staff and students to access online.
They were submitted to the HEA’s Centre of Excellence for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, which has oversight of the Framework for Consent and are published on institutional websites.
HEIs will be required to report on progress in implementing the Framework for Consent to the HEA on an annual basis.
Speaking to The Echo, Mary Crilly “hugely” welcomed the publication of the Action Plans.
She said she and her colleagues in Cork Sexual Violence Centre have found Freshers’ Week to be “the worst time for sexual harassment in college”.
“Most accounts for young people would take place during that week when they are new," she said. "When they don’t know their way around.
In addition, Minister Harris has written to each higher education institution asking them to consider introducing a Domestic Violence Leave Policy to cover all staff.
This leave will enable the staff member to take the time they need to seek assistance in a structured and supported environment.
“Domestic violence continues to be a pervasive problem in our society," Minister Harris said.
He said figures for 2020, show that the Gardaí received 43,000 calls to respond to domestic abuse incidents – a 16% increase on 2019.
"Domestic violence does not just have a major impact on the person and their family. It can also have a significant impact on the person’s working life, and their wellbeing."
Speaking on the Domestic Violence Leave Policy, Ms Crilly described it as something “that’s really been needed for a long time”.
“I think when somebody is traumatised and they have been abused or they’re constantly being abused, you can’t think straight," she said.
“You do need that kind of time off, but you also need that recognition that a crime has been committed.”