The Minister for Justice has said she is confident that legislation which will see sharing intimate images without consent become a crime will be enacted this year.

The Harassment, Harmful Communications, and Related Offences Bill is expected to pass through the Dáil and Seanad this week.

Minister Helen McEntee was speaking at the launch of the Rape Crisis Network's 2019 annual report.

The new law comes after intimate images of Irish women were leaked online without their consent.

Speaking at the launch, Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau welcomed the legislation.

He said the affects of image based violence can be harmful, stressful and traumatic for victims.

Detective Daly said every case would be investigated even in interjurisdictional situations.

President of the Independent Group of Experts monitoring the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) told the conference that digital violence has been increasing.

Dr Marceline Naudi said GREVIO has set up a working group to use the framework of the Istanbul convention to see if online stalking and sex abuse within the framework will address the behaviour.

The 2019 Rape Crisis Network Annual Report, which was launched by the Minister for Justice, is based on the evidence of victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Last year, 1,298 people took up counselling and support with seven Rape Crisis Centres in Ireland.

The majority were survivors of sexual violence (89% or 1,158 individuals).

140 individuals, 11%, were people supporting a survivor of sexual violence.

The majority of survivors that attended centres were female (89%). Males accounted for 11% of survivors. There was also a small number of transgender survivors.

The report shows that survivors who were subjected to sexual violence when under the age of 13 most commonly disclosed that they were subjected to the sexual violence in either their own home (43%) or in the perpetrator's home (33%).

The most common location for 13 to 17-year-olds who were subjected to sexual violence was in the perpetrator's home (32%), followed by "other locations" (30%), and outside (22%).

The most common "other locations" for this age group was a friend's house.

Survivors who were subjected to the sexual violence when aged 18 and over disclosed that the most common locations of abuse were either in "other locations" (35%) or their own homes (34%).

The most common "other locations" for this age group of survivors were a friend's house, a pub/nightclub, or their workplace.

A significant number of survivors of sexual violence in adulthood disclosed that they were subjected to the sexual violence in the perpetrator's homes (22%).

Survivors of domestic violence and coercive control were almost exclusively subjected to the sexual violence either in their own home or their partner/ex-partner's home.

The majority of survivors who reported incidents of sexual violence to An Garda Síochána disclosed that the gardaí maintained ongoing contact with them throughout the case (67%).

Detective Chief Superintendent Daly said work needed to be done to improve that figure. 

He said he wanted to encourage people to report domestic or sexual based violence. 

The Minister for Justice said the implementation of the O'Malley report recommendations are under way.

The review of protections for vulnerable witnesses in sexual offence cases, chaired by law lecturer and barrister Tom O'Malley, examined protections for vulnerable witnesses in the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences.

Training programmes are due to begin across the justice sector to support victims in sexual violence cases that go before the courts.

Minister McEntee noted there had been a fragmented approach in how sex and domestic violence was dealt with in the past, and he said an audit will end before the end of March to identify the most effective "infrastructure" to deal with domestic violence.