CALLS have been made to open dialogue between students on sexual health – with the Department of Justice and the USI creating an awareness campaign.
The Department and the student union joined together outside the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre to launch the #AskConsent campaign.
 
The sexual consent campaign, funded by COSC (the national office for the prevention of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence) was established to ‘encourage conversations across the country, at dinner tables, in college campuses, in bars and restaurants, on radio and television shows, about what consent means in the context of having sex with another person and that sex without consent is rape.’
 
Justice Minister, Francis Fitzgerald welcomed the idea and is willing to do everything she can to “protect and support victims”.
 
The Minister will also be publishing a second national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.
 
USI President, Kevin Donoghue said the campaign was much needed.
 
“USI hopes this campaign will open up dialogue around the issue of consent both on and off our campuses. 
 
“The USI ‘Say Something’ survey showed some alarming statistics, with 16% of respondents experiencing some form of unwanted sexual experience while at their current educational institution,” he said.
 
“Consent is a verbal and active affirmation, and this is something we need to include in our sex education and as part of our consent culture on campus,” he added.
 
Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) said that current trends in relation to sexual assault are very worrying.
 
 “Dublin, Galway, Tullamore and Cork’s trained RCC volunteers accompanied 108 victims of rape and sexual assault to 4 Sexual Assault Treatment Units in July and August in 2015. 
 
“Research tells us that only 1 in 10 report these crimes. These most recent figures are very worrying and alarming,” she said.
 
Photo: USI.ie