Monday, December 12, 2016

A study of women students’ experiences of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault 1 / 5


Welcome to Hidden Marks the first ever nationwide report into women students’ experience of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault.
We decided to undertake this research because women aged 16–24 have a higher risk of experiencing domestic violence, but there appeared to be little awareness of this amongst students. We wanted
to find out from women students themselves about their
experiences. We wanted to understand what was happening on campus, in halls of residences, and in students' unions, and we wanted to hear how women students felt about it.
In this report we provide a snapshot of the harassment and violence that a national sample of women students have faced whilst they have been at their current institution. The picture that we have revealed is disturbing. 14 per cent have experienced serious physical or sexual assault. 68 per cent have been subject to verbal or physical sexual harassment. Nearly one in four has experienced unwanted sexual contact.
Many women students struggle to get through their course without coming into to contact with harassment or violence in one form or another. Whether it is being harassed in the students' union bar, or abuse in intimate relationships, this report reveals a serious problem that needs urgent action.
It is a problem that is made worse by the lack of support received by the women students who face violence. There is very little little awareness of whether institutions provide any services to support women, and nearly a third of students don't even discuss the issue of violence against women with their friends. Very few students reported their experiences, either to their institution or to the police. In the category of serious sexual assault only 10 per cent reported it to the police, and more than four in ten told no one about the attack.
At the moment, women students are too often being forced to pick themselves up and carry on, without any help or support from their institution. Many women students are left feeling alone, and feeling like they are to blame for the violence committed against them.
This report is a wake-up call. We must act now to to break the silence: violence against women students is widespread, serious, and is hampering women's ability to learn. This report is just the start of the work that the NUS Women’s Campaign will be undertaking to tackle violence against women students. But we can’t end the violence alone.
Institutions, students’ unions and students have a pressing responsibility to take immediate action to tackle the problem. In this report, we call for institutions and students' unions to work together to do two key things. First, we ask that they develop a comprehensive institutional policy to tackle violence against women. Second, that they adopt a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to harassment and violence.
All students have the right to live and study in an environment of dignity and respect, free from the fear of harassment or violence. We look forward to working with government, institutions and students’ unions to make this a reality.
Olivia Bailey

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