Alarming increase in number of reported rapes of children in 2020 which had a series of lockdowns and school closures. Only 4% of reports of child sexual abuse result in a conviction in court

In response to a Parliamentary written question by Deputy Mattie McGrath on behalf of the Alliance of Birthmothers Campaigning for Justice, the Minister for Justice has replied giving data on the number of reports of child sex abuse made to An Garda Siochana for each of the years 2015 to 2022 and up to 24 May 2023.

The data she provided shows an alarming increase in reported rapes of children under 18 years during 2020 when we had a series of lockdowns and school closures.

The number of reported rapes of children in 2020 (638) is more than double those reported in 2016 (288) and is a third higher than those reported in 2022 (446).

The number of child rapes reported is only an indication of the problem given that many rapes are not reported.

The CSO published 𝑆𝑒π‘₯π‘’π‘Žπ‘™ π‘‰π‘–π‘œπ‘™π‘’π‘›π‘π‘’ π‘†π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘£π‘’π‘¦ 2022 report in April which is the first national survey of sexual violence in two decades.

For those surveyed aged 18-24, three in ten (33%) men experienced sexual violence as a child compared with five in ten (49%) women in this age group. In other words, half of the women in this age group experienced sexual violence as a child. This is a truly shocking phenomenon and shows there’s an epidemic of sexual violence in Ireland which is growing out of control.

Women reported experiencing three times the level of unwanted sexual intercourse as a child than men.

Women reported experiencing three times the level of unwanted sexual intercourse as a child than men.

Young women (aged 18 to 24) reported the highest prevalence of unwanted sexual intercourse as a child at 10%, compared with 6% of women aged 65 and over.

Shockingly, almost half of women (47%) and nearly three-quarters (72%) of men, did not disclose these experiences to anyone before the survey and for this reason it’s probably safe to assume that the data given to Deputy McGrath is only the tip of the iceberg.

A Garda Inspectorate report, π‘…π‘’π‘ π‘π‘œπ‘›π‘‘π‘–π‘›π‘” π‘‡π‘œ πΆβ„Žπ‘–π‘™π‘‘ 𝑆𝑒π‘₯π‘’π‘Žπ‘™ 𝐴𝑏𝑒𝑠𝑒 published in 2018 shows 4 per cent of child sex abuse cases reported to the gardaΓ­ result in a conviction in court.

The report also shows 66 per cent of all sex crimes in Ireland involve a child victim and the age profile of victims range from three years of age to 17 with a noticeable peak aged five and an increase from age 11 to the highest point at age 15.

In a sample of cases examined, a high proportion of suspects were known to the victim or their family with 44% described as familial and 25% as neighbours or family acquaintances. Only 14% of suspects were described as strangers.

In a sample of CSA (Child Sexual Assault) cases examined in this review, less than 13% were referred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision. Of those that were referred, the average prosecution rate was 32%.

Two third of referrals to the DPP resulted in no prosecutions.

Chapter 4 of the report explores the growing phenomena of online child sexual abuse (CA) and child sexual exploitation (CSE) as well as the potential dangers which the internet poses to children which it says is a growing problem for the Gardai.

The Garda Inspectorate is an oversight agency. It reviews areas of the Garda’s work and recommends reforms.

The data given to Deputy McGrath shows a tripling of child. pornography reports to the Gardai 2015–2022.

Deputy McGrath has sent a number of Parliamentary questions to the Minister for Justice on the number of convictions for child sexual abuse 2015-2023.

We await a reply from the minister.

In the UK the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), chaired by Professor Alexis Jay published its final report last month.

Its findings are that a β€œconservative” estimate suggested that around 500,000 children are abused in a single year.

Another estimate suggested at least 15 percent of girls and 5 percent of boys are sexually abused before the age of 16.

β€œChildren in the care of local authorities (known as β€˜looked after children’) especially those in residential care and in foster care are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.

Experiences of trauma while living in the parental home are likely to have occurred. The Inquiry heard a number of examples of the abuse of children in care. Its investigations into children in the care of Lambeth Council and the Nottinghamshire Councils found abuse akin to that uncovered by inquiries of the 1990s, with the true number of victims of child sexual abuse likely to be higher than the local authorities had been able to identify,” the report says.

Here in Ireland the media has focused on the goings on in RTE with very little reporting on the study by University College Dublin (UCD) school of social policy that found β€œgangs” trafficking girls Tusla took into state care into hotels to be sexually abused by predatory men.

During the DΓ‘il debate on Tuesday on matters relating to RTE, Deputy McGrath said:

β€œWhat people should be talking about is the explosive paper that was published last week that said our most vulnerable young people are being raped and sexually exploited by gangs of predatory men and it is happening while they are in the care of Tusla, the State agency charged with keeping our children safe. It is a shocking indictment. On the same day everyone was agog at the RTΓ‰ saga, far more disturbing revelations were being made in a scoping report called Protecting Against Predators: A Scoping Study on the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Young People in Ireland – my God, there are different types of predators everywhere – that outlined what is happening to children, which is what these girls are, at the hands of sick, evil perverts of men and predatory males. Vulnerable children in care in Ireland are clearly being targeted for sexual exploitation and abuse by gangs of predatory men, as that new report from University College Dublin, UCD, has revealed, and it barely gets a mention.”

Speaking shortly afterwards Deputy Catherine Connolly said:

β€œI agree with Deputy Mattie McGrath regarding the report he raised, our failure to deal with it in the DΓ‘il and the length of time we are forced to give to this topic because of the utter failure of governance. In the meantime, 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds are being collected in taxis and subjected to sexual abuse in hotels, and the hotels have expressed concern. We have never discussed that in this DΓ‘il.”

There’s an epidemic of child sexual abuse in Ireland and there’s no political will among any of the political parties to tackle it. What we hear is pious platitudes and no action.