Media Release: Women’s Aid welcomes the agreement by Government to include new provisions on consent in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015.

24 Jan 2017

Women’s Aid welcomes the agreement by Government to include new provisions on consent in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015. For many years, we have highlighted the fact that sexual abuse is very much a part of domestic violence and the difficulty for women who are being abused by their partner to negotiate a free, equal and consenting sexual relationship.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women's Aid, says:

"We are heartened to see the provisions on the use of force or the threat of force to coerce women to engage in sexual activity, recognition that consent can be withdrawn at any time and that the absence or omission of resistance does not mean the person has consented."

Ms Martin continues:

"We know from women ringing our 24hr National Freephone Helpline that where there is a dynamic of control and abuse in an intimate relationship, the likelihood of sexual coercion and abuse is high. Many women find speaking about the sexual relationship with their abuser difficult and at times struggle to identify coercion and forced sexual activity as the crime of sexual violence."

Ms Martin adds:

"Rape by a partner, husband or boyfriend can be very difficult to talk about. We know that the incidents of abuse and rape within a relationship disclosed to our helpline are the tip of the iceberg. In 2015, there were 616 disclosures to Women's Aid of sexual abuse including 212 reports of rape. Women have disclosed that their partners have drugged and raped them while unconscious, that they have been sexually assaulted with weapons, that they have been raped by a partner who says that 'sex is his right'. Women also tell us that quite often they feel that they cannot say no as it will mean a physical attack. That it is easier to ‘give in’."

Women's Aid hopes that these measures will increase safety and protection and help women who are experiencing intimate partner identify and report rape from by a partner and seek help from specialist support agencies like Women’s Aid.


For further information please contact Christina Sherlock on 087 919 2457 or email

Additional Information:

  • Anyone who is affected by this issue can call the Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900 or visit
  • Women's Aid is the national organisation providing support and information to women experiencing domestic violence through its Direct Services. It runs the only free, national, domestic violence helpline (1800 341 900, 24 hours, 7 days) with specialised trained staff & volunteers, accredited by the Helplines Partnership and with a Telephone Interpretation Service covering 170 languages for callers needing interpreting services as well as a Text Service for Deaf and Hard of Hearing women.
  • Women's Aid also offers a Dublin-based One to One Support Service and Court Accompaniment Service and runs the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service in the Dublin District Family Law Court (in partnership with Dublin 12 Domestic Violence Service and Inchicore Outreach Centre.)