Local election candidate Thoiba Ahmed has added her voice to calls for a new major national study on sexual violence in Ireland.

Ms Ahmed, who is running for a council seat in Letterkenny, said awareness of sexual violence and education must be consistent and supported by the government.

Thoiba Ahmed is running for a council seat in the Letterkenny Municipal District Elections in May 2019

Her calls come as the rate of sexual offences in Donegal rose by 28% last year.

Garda statistics show that sex crimes in Donegal are almost three times the national average. Donegal Garda Division reported an annual increase of reported sexual offences from 101 in 2017 to 130 in 2018, which exceeded the national average increase of 10%. 117 rape cases were reported last year, compared to the 85 the previous year.

It has been 17 years since the last Savi – Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland report was published.

While the Central Statistics Office has been instructed to develop and deliver a second study, Ms Ahmed said a new report is pertinent to Donegal.

“A national survey would provide accurate information on the incidences of sexual violence and may give some insight to why a county such as Donegal has above average reported incidences of sexual violence,” says Thoiba Ahmed, who is associated with various community groups and the Donegal Intercultural Platform.

Ms Ahmed is calling for funding to create awareness and educate communities about sexual violence.

“There is definitely a growing awareness in the public of the frightening increase of sexual violence and there is a need to adopt a more strategic approach to awareness raising as opposed to relying on a media trend. Funding needs to be made available for education and seminars run by charities and NGOs nationally and locally ” says Thoiba Ahmed.