BY EMMA CONNOLLY
SEX Crime reports up 40% in a year in West Cork is an indication of the need for specialised responses to the kind of offences which all too often go unreported because of fears of reprisal, not being believed, of the stigma, and of attempting to seek justice within a system that is all too often not adequate to the job.
That’s the view of Marie Mulholland of the Bantry-based West Cork Women Against Violence Centre who was responding to last week’s front page Southern Star story.
In a letter to the editor of this newspaper, Ms Mulholland reiterated the need for government funding for a Protective Services Unit in the area which has been promised since last Summer.
Domestic violence, child abuse, sex trafficking and exploitation are all part of the same cohort of offences which require specialised, sensitive and highly-trained personnel to interview, investigate and to provide supports, she said.
‘In our organisation we have seen the numbers of women seeking help because of domestic abuse climb year-on-year. In 2016 we had over 200 women use our service and fully expect that our figures for 2017 will show another increase. It should be stressed that these are the women who sought help, hundreds more do not because of fear, judgement and stigma. In a significant number of the cases we deal with, sexual assault is also a factor of the abuse.’
The Protective Services Unit was to have been in place since last August.
‘The need for a multiagency approach with professional investigators led by the Garda Siochana, known as the Protective Services Unit, is recognised as one of the most progressive developments for decades in Irish policing. In West Cork, under the leadership of the West Cork Garda Division and its chief superintendent, all the necessary elements have been put in place – recruitment, training, buy-in from the other services, to provide a fully operational Protective Services Unit in West Cork. All that remains is for the government to provide the resources for the premises in which it will be located,’ concluded Ms Mulholland.