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Woman 'gang raped' in Belfast, two men charged over attack

By Cate McCurry

Published 20/02/2016

Three men were arrested after what is believed to have been a gang rape in west Belfast in the early hours of yesterday
Three men were arrested after what is believed to have been a gang rape in west Belfast in the early hours of yesterday

Two men, aged 18 and 23, have been charged with rape following an attack on a woman in west Belfast early on Friday morning.

It is understood the attack occurred at a Traveller site at Glen Road. Two caravans remained sealed off by police yesterday.

The men were arrested in the same area of the city.

They are expected to appear before Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "Three men have been arrested following a serious sexual assault on a woman in her 30s in the Glen Road area of west Belfast early on Friday morning."

One of the men was later released unconditionally.

Local Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan said the news was very concerning.

Mr Sheehan added: "This has been a very serious sexual attack in west Belfast and I want to advise anyone with any information regarding the attack to contact the PSNI."

Eileen Kelly, a former volunteer with the now defunct Rape Crisis Centre, said that while these kind of attacks were extremely rare, the incident was very worrying.

Ms Kelly, who is still a counsellor for victims of sex abuse, added: "It's concerning for any woman who was confronted by three men in this way.

"It must have been extremely frightening for the lady. These types of attacks are extremely rare, but even if there is only one of them, it heightens women's fear of going out and being able to move around freely.

"Thankfully, she is alive, but this is a very concerning development.

"We have heard of these types of attacks happening in other countries, and quite recently during the New Year (in Cologne, Germany) when women were attacked by groups of men who appeared to be travelling in gangs."

There are a number of organisations which can provide specialist support to victims of sexual violence and abuse in Northern Ireland.

These include Nexus NI, which offers counselling and support to survivors of sexual abuse and victims of sexual violence, including those who have experienced rape and sexual assault.

The Northern Ireland's Women's Aid Federation also provides advice, support and safe accommodation for women - and their children - who have been abused either mentally, physically or sexually.

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