The number of sexual assaults reported in Cork city are on the rise, with an increase of almost 50% in the first four months of this year.
According to figures released by Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan at a meeting of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC) last Monday afternoon, the number of reported sexual assaults in Cork city from January to the end of April stood at 46.
This is a significant increase on the 31 sexual assaults reported within the same time frame last year.
There were 20 incidents of rape reported in Cork City in the first four months of 2022, an increase of over 40% on the 14 incidents of rape reported over the same time frame in 2021.
In Cork North, sexual assault reports are also on the rise, having increased from 13 reports in the first four months of 2021, to 17 in the first four months of this year.
Meanwhile there was a slight decrease in Cork West, where the 13 cases of sexual assault reported in the first four months of this year was one fewer than the 14 incidents reported by this time last year.
Mary Crilly, Chief Executive of the Sexual Violence Centre in Cork, said that the increase in reports to Gardai could indicate that survivors are becoming less afraid to come forward.
“It's still only the tip of the iceberg, because the majority of people we come across won’t report to the Gardaí and they won't tell anybody. If they were raped by somebody who they know, that's so close that they feel they can't report it,” she added.
Figures from the first four months of this year, with no pandemic restrictions in place, are compared to the first four months of 2021, most of which was through a full Level Five lockdown.
Ms Crilly said that the increase from 2021 to 2022 is more likely to reflect increased reporting to Gardaí, rather than increased levels of sexual assault with the reopening of pubs and clubs. She said that at the centre they helped just as many people during lockdowns as pre-Covid.
She commended the work of Gardaí in Cork in encouraging people to come forward.
“They have the protective services units in Cork, in Dunmanway, Fermoy, and Anglesea Street, and they just deal with sexual crime and domestic crime and sex trafficking, and they're really good. They're really trying to highlight the fact that they are listening, and that there are specialist Gardai there trained to take your case,” she said.
“The protective services unit was really a way of highlighting the unfortunate reality, that there is an epidemic of sexual violence in our country. Hopefully we stop tolerating the minority of guys who do this, that we stop protecting them, and stop tolerating their behaviour,” she added.