Sexual Violence, Alcohol Consumption and Women’s Human Rights

RCNI Press Release 10/12/2012

RCNI calls on Government to meet human rights obligations by targeting alcohol consumption and attitudes towards alcohol and sex

On the International day of Human Rights and the conclusion of the 16 days of activism on violence against women, the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) concludes its yearlong campaign focussing on alcohol and sexual violence. RCNI calls on the Government to meet human rights obligations regarding sexual violence, harmful gender roles and cultural practices.

RCNI Executive Director Fiona Neary commented; “As attitudes towards women, sex and alcohol, combined with consumption, demonstrate a relationship to decisions to carry out acts of sexual violence, there is an obligation on the Irish government to target alcohol consumption, particularly binge drinking, and alcohol-related attitudes that are facilitative of rape.

“The State needs to set standards for alcohol marketing and to provide funding for broad marketing campaigns that aim to dispel incorrect information about the effect of alcohol, and to challenge rape supportive attitudes including combating alcohol-involved rape, denial, minimisation and victim blaming” she added.

Over the course of 2012, the RCNI Calling Time on Sexual Violence series has examined the involvement of alcohol in sexual violence. Recommendations, arising out of the campaign, call for strict and independently enforced rules ensuring alcohol marketing does not support rape facilitative attitudes and limiting the availability of alcohol through a range of measures including minimum pricing. Training for staff in premises that serve alcohol and developing quality education programmes that address harmful, culturally held attitudes towards alcohol consumption, sexual behaviour and gender roles were also recommended.

Please visit the RCNI blog to see the full series of fact sheets and blogs released by RCNI which focus on alcohol and sexual violence. To access the blog and fact sheet log on to rcni.wordpress.com

-Ends-For more information contact Cliona Saidlear 087 2196447

Notes for the Editor


Some key Evidence and Data from the series:
The Rape and Justice in Ireland (2009) study found:

  • Evidence that a minority of rape complainants felt that their reports of rape were taken less seriously because they had been drinking alcohol.
  • Rape complainants with a history of alcoholism were more likely to have their cases discontinued by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), most likely as they are deemed to be poor witnesses. This finding has been supported by the DPP annual report, 2005.
  • 21% of rape complainants in RAJI who withdrew their complaint suffered from substance abuse or dependency, primarily alcohol use.

Studies from outside Ireland have found that:
Juries are less likely to convict when the complainant or the defendant was intoxicated (fact sheet 4).
High levels of rape myth acceptance and blaming of intoxicated rape victim among young people (Fact sheet 5).
Jurors tend to assign less blame to perpetrators who used alcohol to facilitate a rape than those who used better recognition ‘date-rape’ drugs such as Rohypnol or GBH (fact sheet 6).

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