THE head of Cork's Sexual Violence Centre has claimed that three college students have contacted them to say they have been raped.
Speaking at a meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee, Mary Crilly revealed that three young female students from University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology had contacted the centre since the beginning of September to say that they had been victims of rape.
With the college term having just began a couple of weeks ago, the revelation has called into question the resources in place for Gardai to investigate sexual assaults and rapes.
Ms Crilly called for more resources to be directed towards the Garda Protective Services Unit, which is a specialist unit set up with the specific task of investigating a range of serious crimes.
“For a city the size of Cork, to have six people in its unit is ridiculous,” she said.
“It needs more resources. It should have at least 20 gardaí involved given that it has to deal with domestic violence and human trafficking as well."
Ms Crilly added that two of the three students who contacted the centre had since dropped out of their college courses to return home to their families.
Cork Sexual Violence Centre is working with the third woman to encourage her to remain in college.
They are reported to be freshers students, meaning they had entered their first year of college just a couple of weeks ago.
Ms Crilly said that an study conducted in America found a rise in the number of freshers being sexually assaulted and raped from the beginning of September until November, and that the Cork centre recorded a similar increase during this period.
None of these incidents were reported to the Gardai.
She explained that young women are often hesitant to report the matter because they were drinking at the time of the incident, but in one of these recent cases, the attack happened while the woman was at home in her student accommodation.
Cork’s Joint Policing Committee was presented with figures yesterday which show there has been a 52% increase in the number of reported incidents of rape of a male or female between January and August this year compared to the same period last year — up from 23 to 35.
Chief Supt Barry McPolin expressed his desire for more staff and resources for the Protective Services Unit and said: “A lot of the new complaints coming into the Protective Service Unit are of a historic nature but it’s encouraging to see that people have the courage and the confidence in us to come forward so we can fully investigate their complaints.”