Fewer than one in 40 rape cases are properly punished in the Irish courts.

This was the verdict of criminologist Paul O’Mahony at a conference at Dublin’s Rape Crisis Center which took place yesterday.

The conference was to mark the 30th anniversary of the Rape Crisis Center. Senator Ivana Bacik of Trinity College Dublin’s law department had carried out a study, commissioned by the Center and supported by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Civil Legal Aid Board, RTE reported.

Bacik’s research found that in many cases – 70 percent – judges allowed the defense to bring up the victim’s sexual history in a measure known as Section 3. Bacik said judges allowed the evidence to be heard because it related to a woman’s alleged promiscuity.

"Our research shows that judges grant defence applications to introduce evidence about the sexual history of rape victims very frequently," Bacik told the Irish Independent.

"This is despite the highly prejudicial nature of the reasons being offered by the defence. In particular we found one commonly-used defence argument was that the victim was ‘promiscuous.’

"This sort of argument, unfortunately, strengthens the myths about rape and has potential to undermine the victim's evidence in court."

Bacik looked at 40 of the 59 rape cases that the Central Criminal Court tried between 2003 and 2009.

Less than one third of cases resulted in a conviction, and in more than 47 percent of cases, the accused was acquitted.

Judges allow the defense to bring up the victim’s sexual history in 70 percent of cases.