Women, men face sexual assault in colleges

Sexual harassment and lad culture are rife on university campuses, with more than a third of women reporting that they have suffered unwelcome sexual advances in the form of inappropriate groping and touching, according to new research, Guardian said quoting a survey.

Not happy days for everyone
Not happy days for everyone

In a survey of 2,156 men and women by the National Union of Students(NUS) published on Monday, 37% of women and 12% of men who responded said they had faced unwelcome sexual advances. Under UK law “inappropriate touching and groping” constitutes sexual assault, though the survey does not use the term.

Launching the study, NUS president Toni Pearce called on university authorities to stop “passing the buck” and acknowledge the problem on British campuses. The online survey paints a woeful portrait of “laddism” at UK universities. The NUS defines lad culture as a set of “behaviours and attitudes that … belittle, dismiss, joke about or even seem to condone rape and sexual assault”.

“As many teenagers leave home for the first time this week to begin their university careers at freshers’ week, the findings suggest they are likely to face sexism, sexual harassment and assault within the university environment. More than a third of women (36%) who took part in the survey said they had experienced unwanted sexual comments about their body (compared with 16% of men). Two thirds said they had seen students put up with unwanted sexual comments, and just under a third reported verbal harassment based on gender.

“The survey suggested the telling of rape and sexual assault jokes was commonplace, with two-thirds of those taking part in witnessing it in the university environment. More than a third of respondents were aware of promotional materials around university that had sexualised images of women, with 51% of women (33% of men) agreeing that the images made them feel uncomfortable. Examples included naked pictures of women accompanying a call for more pictures of “top student totty”, and girls pictured kissing on a flyer,” Guardian report said.

“Three quarters were aware of online communities such as Uni Lad andThe Lad Bible, aimed at male students, which 63% of women (and 43% of men) felt contributed to an unfair representation of women. In contrast, the study revealed a worrying lack of awareness among students of reporting procedures or provisions to prohibit and tackle such behaviour – 60% said they were unaware of any codes of conduct at their university or student union.

“As a result of the findings, the NUS is launching a pilot scheme in a small number of unions to assess the impact of “lad culture” and examine the adequacy of measures currently in place to tackle the problem, with a long term aim of developing a cross-institutional strateg,” Guardian said quoting the report.