'It happens every night and day': Cork Sexual Violence Centre founder says rape reporting figures do not reflect reality

Official garda figures showed there had been 28 reported rapes in Cork city in the first five months of 2022
'It happens every night and day': Cork Sexual Violence Centre founder says rape reporting figures do not reflect reality

Mary Crilly, CEO of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork (SVCC), at a special meeting of Cork City Council where the freedom of the city was bestowed upon her earlier this month. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

THE founder of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork has said she believes official figures for rapes and sexual assaults are “low” and do not reflect reality.

Mary Crilly, founder and CEO of the Sexual Violence Centre Cork, told The Echo she believed new garda figures showing a combined increase in reports of rapes and sexual assaults in Cork city of 34% over the past five months did not show the full extent of sexual crime.

Ms Crilly was speaking after the figures, presented at the June quarterly meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), showed a 56% increase in reported rapes and a 25% increase in reported sexual assaults in Cork city over the past five months, against the same period last year.

Official garda figures showed there had been 28 reported rapes in Cork city in the first five months of 2022, up from 18 during the same period last year, representing a 56% increase.

There had been 50 reported sexual assaults, which were defined as “not aggravated”, in the first five months of 2022, a 25% increase on 40 in the same period of 2021. Presenting the figures, Chief Superintendent Tom Myers, who is in charge of policing in the Cork City division, noted some of the reported rapes were historical in nature.

Despite the increase in reported crimes, Ms Crilly said she believed rapes and sexual assaults were still, to a significant degree, going unreported.

“These numbers are still quite low for what everybody knows happens every weekend, every night, every day, so we need to keep reporting,” Ms Crilly said.

Ms Crilly said she believed the figures for reported sexual crimes were up because victims were being referred by rape crisis services such as the Sexual Violence Centre Cork to An Garda Siochána’s specialist Divisional Protective Service Units.

'HUGE DIFFERENCE'

“People are more inclined to go there than to a regular garda station, because they feel they’ll get better looked after there, and I think that’s making a huge difference,” Ms Crilly said.

“I don’t think there’s an increase in rape, and I know from people coming in here that it’s always happened, but more people maybe are starting to report it, which is great.” 

Ms Crilly said that while she understood why some people feel unable to come forward, she would always encourage survivors of rape and sexual assault to come forward and, whenever possible, to hold perpetrators to account.

Ms Crilly, who founded what was originally the Cork Rape Crisis Centre, and who was granted the freedom of the city earlier this month, stressed that rape is always entirely the fault of the perpetrator.

“It’s never that someone has a sexual urge at the end of an evening and they have to have sex, it’s never about that, it’s always about power and control,” she said.

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