On 20th November 2018 the Government approved a new national survey on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland. Following this, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Central Statistics Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 10th January 2019 regarding the undertaking of the survey.
The CSO have now begun the work on the large scale survey, called the Sexual Violence Survey (SVS), which will look in detail at the experience of sexual violence and abuse for both women and men in Ireland, with repeat surveys every decade.
This is a large and complex survey. The Government’s expert Scoping Group report made clear that delivering a survey that met the highest standards would be a significant undertaking and a multi-annual project.
A priority of mine is that it be done right. We want to ensure that the State undertakes an ongoing programme of research of the highest quality in a sensitive and ethical way to ensure a robust set of data to inform Government policy. The complexities and timeframes involved have been acknowledged by some of the NGOs involved in the sector. The CSO has provided an estimated timeline of up to five years for completion including a full first year of technical research, design, specialist training and preparation. The preparatory phase will also involve a stakeholder consultation process, consideration of best international practice and the conducting of a full pilot survey in the field in 2020.
As has been stated, a national survey by its nature cannot achieve data to make useful or meaningful conclusions on the experiences of sexual violence for smaller cohorts such as members of vulnerable and minority groups. The report of the Scoping Group did indeed recommend that further consideration be given to the development of appropriate supplementary data collection exercises to explore the experiences of those harder to reach groups. Following the pilot of the SVS, proposals will be developed to explore options, including conducting qualitative work on such sub populations.
The provision of reliable, robust, objective and internationally comparable information requires that the planning and execution of this survey is undertaken in a professional and comprehensive manner and to do otherwise may compromise the quality of the resulting data. Therefore, the planned duration of the new Sexual Violence Survey (SVS) is to ensure that all aspects of the survey are undertaken and completed to the highest possible standard.