CARI Welcomes Conviction of Female Offender

January, 2009

CARI welcomes conviction of female offender but asks what treatment is there for victims and perpetrators?

CARI welcomes the conviction of the first female sexual offender in Ireland because it sends out the message to those children, who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of females that the legal system will now take them seriously. For too long the image of females as sexual offenders was too difficult for many to cope with and unconsciously Irish society failed to encourage their victims to come forward. In 2007 CARI held a conference called “The Last Taboo” which focussed on this area and highlighted the fact that women have traditionally been seen as nurturers in society, so to accept that some would perpetrate sexual crimes against children goes against the very core of how women are viewed. While statistically a small group, it is likely to be seriously under reported. Suppressing or avoiding discussion and acknowledgement of sexual abuse by females has prevented people disclosing whether for fear of not being believed or not taken seriously.

The teenage boy who came forward in this incident deserves the highest praise for his courage and his perseverance because it will hopefully make it much easier for others to do the same and stop so many from suffering in silence.  In the UK an examination of calls to ChildLine (NSPCC, 2007) has shown that the prevalence of female perpetrated child sexual abuse is an issue of concern. Five percent of the girls and 44% of the boys who identified the gender of their abuser indicated that it was a female. While in Ireland the SAVI Report (2002) indicated that 7% of adults who suffered sexual abuse as children did so at the hands of females. These statistics highlight the utterly shocking reality when contrasted with the fact that today is the first time, in Ireland, that a female has received a sentence for such acts.

UK research indicates that the vast majority of females who sexually abuse children have suffered extensive abuse themselves in childhood. It recommends that treatment for victims and perpetrators is the best way of breaking the cycle. However, in Ireland there is still a dearth of services available for both despite the strong recommendations set out in the Ferns Report in 2005. This is a scandal given the huge opportunity that was squandered for funding such services in the past number of years.

Founded in 1989, CARI is Ireland’s leading voluntary provider of therapy to children who have experienced sexual abuse.

CARI Lo-Call and Confidential National Helpline 1890 92 45 67