One in seven female students has been the victim of serious sexual assault or serious physical violence while at university, says a recent National Union of Students (NUS) report.
The report, which surveyed over 2,000 female students in the UK, also found that 25% had been subjected to “an unwanted sexual experience while at university or college”.
The commissioner of the ‘Hidden Marks’ report, NUS National Women’s Officer, Olivia Bailey, has described the results as “disturbing”.
Bailey continued: “It is particularly worrying that the perpetrators in many of these cases are fellow students.” This was the case in 60% of these cases of sexual assault.
Furthermore, the report claims that only 10% of female students who have been seriously sexually assaulted have reported the incident to the police.
Only 4% reported their attack to their University. When asked why not, 50% of those who did not report to the police said they felt ashamed or embarrassed, while 43% thought they were “to blame for the violence committed against them.”
Bailey said that the report has highlighted the fact that, “not enough is being done to encourage women students to report all instances of assault or harassment to their institutions or to the police.”
She went on to describe the report as a “wake-up call”, saying that students must be left in “no doubt that such behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Sandra Horley OBE, of the domestic violence charity Refuge, said: “It is vital that universities create an environment where women feel confident to speak out against abuse. Female 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.”
YUSU Women’s Officer, Charlotte Philips, stated: “This report highlights the need for greater provisions, and crucially greater awareness of the existing provisions on campuses. We will work with the welfare team to create a greater awareness of services such as Nightline and the Open Door Team, whilst discussing with local authorities the potential of local specialist provisions for those who experience sexual assault or rape. We are planning an ‘End Violence Against Women’ campaign in the Autumn Term in which intends to help clarify people’s understanding of the boundaries of consent.”