Media Release: Women’s Aid Welcomes Supreme Court Marital Rape Sentencing Judgement

6 Dec 2019

Women’s Aid, a national organisation supporting women affected by domestic violence, has today welcomed the Supreme Court judgement in relation to the 2018 decision of the Court of Appeal to reduce by two years the sentence of a man guilty of the rape and assault his wife. 

Sarah Benson, Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Aid reacted to the development:

“Women’s Aid welcomes the judgement of the Supreme Court that the decision made by the Court of Appeal to reduce the sentence of a man, guilty of the rape and assault of his wife, was wrong.  The importance of this ruling cannot be under-estimated.  The Supreme Court has also laid out sentencing guidelines for cases of rape which recognise that rape where there is an abuse of trust is an aggravating factor when it comes to sentencing.  It also indicates an important understanding by the Court that rape should not be judged in isolation of other offences. This could include the specific dynamics and impacts of coercive, controlling behaviour in abusive intimate relationships which create the environment for sexual abuse and rape.”

Ms Benson continued:

“One in four women in Ireland experience physical and/or sexual violence by intimate partners but rarely do we see cases of marital rape before the justice system.  Women who call us for support often find talking about sexual abuse by a partner the most difficult aspect of abuse to talk about. Under-reporting and the difficulty in speaking about sexual abuse mean that it is almost an invisible part of the horror of domestic violence. However, we hope today’s decision will send a positive message to all women experiencing domestic abuse and sexual abuse, a brutal crime that deserves to be treated seriously and sanctioned appropriately.  We hope that it is a ruling that will bring long overdue comfort and a sense of justice to the victim at the heart of this case."

Ms Benson concludes:

"We know there will be women today who are directly affected by this issue and we encourage anyone who is in this situation to call our 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 – we are here to listen, believe and support women experiencing domestic violence.”


Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900

For more information email Christina Sherlock on or phone 0879192457.

Notes to editors/producers:

  • Marital rape case referred to
  • According to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, 1 in 3 women in Ireland experience emotional abuse from a partner or ex.  1 in 4 women experience physical and/or sexual abuse. (FRA, 2014).
  • There were 526 disclosures of sexual abuse made to Women's Aid in 2018. This figure includes 226 reports of rape by a current or ex intimate partner. Women disclosed that they were raped, beaten during sex, coerced into sex, were denied access to family planning, had sexually explicit images and videos made without their consent, sometimes being shared online. The Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline answered 44 calls a day in 2018.
  • 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.
  • The Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline is a gateway to local domestic violence support services and refuges around the country.