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1 in 7 women students is a victim of sexual assault or violence

Friday 19 March 2010 Campaigns News

1 in 7 women students (14%) has been the victim of serious sexual assault or serious physical violence while at university or college, according to the results of a survey conducted by NUS today.

NUS’ ‘Hidden Marks’ survey, which gathered over 2,000 responses from women students in the UK, also found that:

  • 12% have been stalked while at university or college;
  • In 60% of these cases of sexual assault or stalking, the perpetrator was also a student;
  • Only 4% of women students who have been seriously sexually assaulted have reported it to their institution;
  • Only 10% of women students who have been seriously sexually assaulted have reported it to the police;
  • Of those who did not report serious sexual assault to the police, 50% said it was because they felt ashamed or embarrassed, and 43% because thought they would be blamed for what happened.

NUS Women’s Officer, Olivia Bailey, said:

“It is extremely disturbing that so many women students are assaulted and harassed while at university or college, and it is particularly worrying that the perpetrators in many of these cases are fellow students.

“Women students can be left feeling like they are to blame for the violence committed against them. Clearly, not enough is being done to encourage women students to report all instances of assault or harassment to their institutions or to the police.

“This report is a wake-up call. Universities and colleges must work more closely with local police, victim support services and health services in order to give victims the security and confidence to come forward. Institutions must also deal with all reported instances of assault or harassment with the utmost seriousness, so that no students are left in any doubt that such behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Sandra Horley OBE, CEO of national domestic violence charity Refuge, said:
 
“I am deeply saddened to hear that so many women students are experiencing violence and harassment during the course of their studies, and that so very few feel able to report the crimes against them.
 
“It is vital that universities create an environment where women feel confident to speak out against abuse.  Women students need to know where they can seek help, and must feel sure that their reports will be taken seriously.  Women have the right to enjoy university life, focus on their studies and plan for their futures, without fear of intimidation of violence.”

Read ‘Hidden Marks: A study of women students’ experiences of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault’