The scale of sexual violence in universities has been unveiled in new survey, conducted by sexual health Charity Brook and Dig-In.
The UK-wide survey of 5,649 students is the largest of its kind and unearths some worrying findings among the student population.
The research, designed by the sexual health charity Brook and distributed by Dig-In, found that 112 women and 18 men reported being raped at universities in the UK. 49% of women had been touched inappropriately, compared to 3% of men: but just 5% had reported it.
The pattern of failure to report continued throughout the survey. Just 8% of university students exposed to unwanted sexual behaviour, such as inappropriate touching, cat-calling, being followed or forced into sex or sexual acts, reported it. Only 25% of those forced into sex reported the offence.
A continued lack of understanding and confusion around consent was also revealed, with only half – 52% – of students understanding it is not possible to give consent when drunk.
The survey shows more needs to be done to inform and educate students, with the charity calling for better education throughout academic life as just half of students report being educated on the issue. This follows the announcement from government that compulsory relationship education will be introduced to the curriculum from September next year.
Helen Marshall, Chief Executive of Brook said:
“While we firmly believe that relationships and sex education (RSE) needs to start in school, this worryingly low reporting rate suggests that much more needs to be done at every stage of academic life. It’s really important that universities provide students with information and education on sexual harassment and the law, and ensure that their reporting procedures and support services are accessible and welcoming.”
Other findings included:
- 90% of all students felt confident saying ‘no’ to unwanted sexual advances; however, of those who did not feel confident saying ‘no’, more than half cited a fear of violence as the reason
- 30% of incidents took place on campus at university
- 1 in 10 students reported feeling obligated to have sex with someone
“These are concerning findings that show a continued gap in the number of assaults taking place, and the number being reported,” responds Trafford Rape Crisis Manager, Fiaza.
“It is critical that students know where to go in order to access support services or report incidents, whether that be through their university or local and national services. Greater education and access to information are crucial if we are to address this epidemic in our universities.”
The full report and response from Brook can be found in their press materials.