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Marital Rape Case evidence of need for Sentencing Council – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

26 March, 2018 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has described a letter in today’s Irish Times from a victim of marital rape as heart-breaking, and cataloguing a deeply distressing and painful event.

The letter was written in protest of a reduction of the perpetrators sentence.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said the case highlighted a lack of understanding of the seriousness of Marital Rape, and underlined the need for a Sentencing Council. He has called on both the Minister and Fianna Fáil to support his amendments to the Judicial Council Bill.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire said; 

“Todays open letter in the Irish Times is absolutely harrowing, and deeply upsetting. In reading the open letter, the context of physical and sexual violence, it is difficult not to feel that the Judges did not take seriously enough the allegation of rape, and indeed, referring to it as ‘sex’ at one point, a reference which is wholly inappropriate.

“The victim is quite right to say that to identify in the statement that ‘the rape was not accompanied by unusual violence’ failed to take account of the traumatic and pain of being raped by a person with whom she had a close intimate relationship.’ The relationship should not be a mitigation by any means.

The victim stated that; “Every one of those 10 years counted for us”, and I share her disappointment at the reduction of the sentence. It seems apparent to me that there is still a lack of understanding of the gravity of the offence involved in marital rape.

"I also believe that this case, along with many other sexual offences in which inappropriate sentences have been handed out, spoke to the need for this Government to introduce more consistency across the board, and setting out quite strong guidelines, by which sentencing should be administered.

“I have tabled an amendment to the Judicial Council Bill which would establish a body to that effect, setting out sentencing guidelines in cases of this nature, known globally as a Sentencing Council. As this Bill is likely to pass in to Law, we believe it is also the best chance of sentencing guidelines coming in to being; and I hope that Minister Flanagan will strongly consider support such an amendment, along with Fianna Fáil.

“I wish to commend that absolute bravery of the victim in highlighting such an issue. It takes incredible courage to come forward to make an allegation in the first place, particularly in the context of Marital Rape, let alone write about the case you have relived for two years in a national newspaper.”

“I would encourage anyone who is a victim of domestic violence and abuse to come make contact with Women’s Aid or the Rape Crisis Network, who can support you and allow you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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