Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has said that society should challenge the perception of what sexual violence is, adding that he was “dumbfounded” by the prevalence of attacks among students.
According to a Union of Students Ireland (USI) survey published in June, nearly three in ten female students reported non-consensual penetration through disability, violence, or threats of violence.
The survey found that 29% of women, 10% of men and 28% of non-binary students reported non-consensual penetration through disability, violence or threats of violence during their studies.
Minister Harris will meet the National Advisory Committee on Sexual Harassment and Violence in the third level on Monday.
He said he wants to address the prevalence of sexual violence among third-level students.
“A third of the female students reported being raped. Let that sink in. Two thirds had been sexually harassed. I didn’t think I was living under a rock, but I was stunned by the findings, ”he said.
Harris said that sexual harassment, sexual harassment, rape, and gender-based violence are increasingly common crimes.
“We know reports of sexual assault and rape peak during freshmen and rags,” he said.
“We also have to challenge the perception of sexual assault and harassment. Violence is not always present. Not all leave visible traces.
“We must fight the misconception that this is a woman’s issue. The more we look at it through a gender-specific lens, the more likely we are to fail.
So it’s time to move on. It is time to face this and it is time that we do something about it.
Fortunately, many victims are now more willing to come forward, but the warning signs in the USI survey should trigger action.
“We should not assume that the problem starts or ends in our third-level settings.”
Mr Harris said he is determined to tackle the “epidemic” of third-level sexual violence.
“I want the third level sector to be not a problem area, but a leader. With respect. Including. In zero tolerance. Consent is not an option. It is a requirement. ‘
Mr. Harris said that students should be taught the importance of consent.
“I don’t care what a victim was wearing. I don’t care how many drinks the perpetrator or victim had. I don’t care if you thought he or she was “ready” or not. I don’t care if they came home with you. Unauthorized sex is sexual assault and it is a crime. ‘
Mr. Harris pointed out how children receive sex education and the influence of social media.
He said the problem cannot be addressed “until we face the awkward reality that this is happening.”
“It can start at our home and in our schools. It can start when we teach our children about sex through a prism of judgment or shame. Or when our children access violent, subversive porn over the phones. Or when our teenagers start using contemptuous, inhumane language against each other, “he said.
“It can happen through toxic cultures in our sports clubs or through judgment and jealousy enhanced by social media,” he said.