....Ms Lewis said the criminal justice system was not suitable for addressing most sexual crimes. Many victims of abuse within the family did not want to engage with the system and did not want their father, brother or uncle to end up in jail.

“What they want is to make sure no other child is sexually abused, they want acknowledgment within their family of the enormous suffering they experienced and they ultimately want an apology from the offender,” she said.

Of 100 victims of sexual abuse in childhood, only 5 per cent will report the crime to gardaí, Ms Lewis said, and 2 – 3 per cent will end up with a conviction.

“We have to develop a more creative way of looking at this that will allow both the victims and offenders to come forward and get help,” she said.

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