How we can tackle the common excuses facilitating sexual harassment/violence 2 months ago

How we can tackle the common excuses facilitating sexual harassment/violence

Sponsored by the Government of Ireland

It's time to end these excuses, and change our definition of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

One of the most difficult aspects of any conversation around sexual harassment and sexual violence is the long list of excuses that are often used as a defence. Sometimes to clear a perpetrator of any wrongdoing, other times to justify the reasons of someone who witnessed something questionable for not coming forward.

Whether it's in work, in school/college, or on a night out, it's important to know exactly when to speak out. The new "No Excuses" campaign from Cosc takes a look at how people react to everyday cases of sexual harassment/violence, and how a culture of excuses is not one where a victim is likely to feel a desire to speak out.

Defending the actions of the perpetrator is often a form of victim-blaming. Some of the most common excuses include:

  • "She was dressed wrong"
  • "She had too much to drink"
  • "Maybe she's just a bit touchy-feely at work"
  • "I think it's just an absent-minded thing with her"
  • "It's not our business"
  • "He was paying her a compliment"

Simply raising awareness about these excuses is a major step in the right direction. If you want to find more information about consent, please click here.

As difficult as it can be to speak out against sexual violence and sexual abuse, it's even more difficult when you don't know exactly what to look out for. Recent research shows that many Irish people simply don't know exactly what defines sexual violence/abuse.

Sexual violence/abuse research

In December 2018, research was carried out by Coyne Research around awareness and attitudes regarding sexual violence/abuse. Some of the key findings included that only 49% of Irish people were very clear about what constitutes sexual abuse.

While the campaign looks to help people who have experienced sexual abuse come forward, things are already starting to improve. Figures released by the Central Statistics Office in April 2019 showed that 63% of all victims of sexual violence who reported to the Gardaí in 2018 reported the crime within one year of the crime.

This represents a marginal increase year on year from 2016 to 2018. No doubt that campaigns like "No Excuses" are playing a role in changing things for the better.

Clip via Department of Justice & Equality

Enough is enough. Let’s stop excusing sexual harassment and sexual violence. Learn more at gov.ie/no excuses or in an emergency call 999. 

Sponsored by the Government of Ireland