Student Issues

IWD 2018: NWCI Launches Website to Tackle Sexual Violence and Harassment in European Third Level Institutions

Ahead of International Women’s Day, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) launched the ‘It Stops Now’ campaign website yesterday. ‘It Stops Now’ is a European wide project that aims to tackle sexual violence and harassment in Third Level Institutions.

‘It Stops Now’ is part of the ESTHE Project which is funded by the European Commission.

Over the past year NWCI worked to develop this project together with our partners, the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) in Cyprus, the Women’s Issues Information Centre (WIIC) in Lithuania, Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS), and the Women’s Equality Commissioner of the Ludwig -Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, each with expertise in the field of gender based violence.

Tara Brown,‘It Stops Now’ Project Coordinator said:

“The issue of sexual violence and harassment in Third Level Institutions is pervasive across Europe. In the era of #MeToo, and the current climate of speaking out against sexual violence and harassment, the ‘It Stops Now’ website creates a much needed ‘one stop shop’ for students, student unions and societies, staff and others committed to promoting a culture of zero tolerance and stamping out the harmful behaviours that act as barriers to women’s equality, safety and their full participation in the university experience. The website contains information for student victims of sexual violence and harassment, policies, research and advice on how to create change, and is currently being translated into a number of different languages.”

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said:

“Women aged 18-29 are subject to the highest levels of sexual violence, up 47% reporting such experiences in a study across five EU countries. In Ireland, 30% of students reported feeling harassed or intimidated in their current institution yet only 3% reported to anyone ‘official’.”

“We have been engaging with third level educations across Ireland. It is clear that there is a serious issue of underreporting when it comes to sexual violence and harassment. Students cite fear of not being believed or taken seriously, feelings of shame and self-blame and fear of ‘the system’ as factors that contribute to not reporting. Such is the frequent and endemic nature of sexual violence in our society that a number of students didn’t equate their experiences with as being behaviour that was either criminal or something they could do something about.”

She  concluded:

“With almost 20 million students across Europe enrolled in third level institutions the potential reach of the ‘It Stops Now’ website is extensive. NWCI will continue to work with educational institutions across Ireland, student bodies, government agencies and our partners across Europe, to ensure that the pervasive issue of sexual violence and harassment is recognised, students supported and the underlying issues addressed.”

The next step of the project aims to develop a Europe wide adaptable toolkit and begin rolling out training to the staff of third level institutes to support their efforts on this issue.