New Poll finds that almost half of Northern Ireland Students Believe that a Woman is Partially or Totally Responsible for Being Raped if She Flirts
Posted: 30 September 2008
New campaign to target student unions
A new poll shows that almost half (46%) of Northern Ireland university students believe that a woman is partially or totally responsible for being raped if she has behaved in a flirtatious manner, revealed Amnesty International today (29 September), as it published a report on attitudes to violence against women.
The poll, Violence against women: the perspective of students in Northern Ireland, commissioned by Amnesty International, surveyed the attitudes and experiences of over 700 students across University of Ulster campuses.
The research showed that a 'blame culture' toward women and sexual violence exists over drinking, perceived promiscuity, personal safety and whether a woman has clearly said 'no' to a man. The poll found, for example, that almost one third (30%) of students in Northern Ireland believe that a woman is partially or totally responsible for being raped if she is wearing 'sexy or revealing clothing'.
The figures are higher than those found in similar surveys carried out elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Amnesty is calling on university heads to do more to tackle the problem of violence against women on campus.
Amnesty International Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan said:
'This survey shows that there are some extremely disturbing attitudes swirling around our campuses.
'It's shocking that so many students lay the blame for being raped or assaulted at the feet of women themselves. If we are going to break a cycle of violence against women in Northern Ireland, we need to start by challenging attitudes amongst students and the population at large.
'As part of an integrated strategy to end all forms of violence against women, the Northern Ireland Executive should consider a comprehensive campaign aimed at preventing violence and challenging prejudicial attitudes.'
Katie Morgan, President of NUS/USI (National Union of Students / Union of Students in Ireland) said:
'Sadly, these results chime with what I have seen with my own eyes on campus. We've long been calling for better services for students who have suffered violence, and these results confirm not only that domestic abuse amongst students occurs far too often, but that students don't know where to turn when it happens. The universities and colleges need to think again about the welfare of their students and in tackling the suggestion that a woman can be responsible for being raped.'
Amnesty's poll also revealed that domestic violence against female students is apparently widespread in Northern Ireland. Forty per cent of students reported knowing a female student who had been assaulted by her boyfriend or partner. Meanwhile, one in 10 local students considers violence acceptable against a girlfriend who nags, flirts with other men or refuses to have sex.
Note to editors
The survey questioned 715 students at the four University of Ulster campuses across Northern Ireland. It was conducted by a group of university students working through the Science Shop.