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

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's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights.

The poll, Violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights: 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's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights 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's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights 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's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights themselves. If we are going to break a cycle of violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights 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's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, 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.
Revealingly, the survey also showed that three-quarters of students did not know what advice to give a woman who had suffered domestic abuse: 77% felt they did not have enough information and support to tackle the problem and 82% were unaware of the availability of any support services on campus for student victims of domestic violence.
The results have prompted Amnesty International and local students unions to launch their own campaign on campus to challenge sexist attitudes. The poster, leaflet and drinks mat campaign will be rolled out in the University of Ulster and Queen’s University Belfast student unions over the coming weeks.
Amnesty has also written to Northern Ireland college heads and the Northern Ireland Executive encouraging them to take more action to tackle violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights students.

ENDS

Note to editors
The full survey report - Violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights: the perspective of students in Northern Ireland - is available from Amnesty International.

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.
The survey questions were similar to two comparable studies undertaken in the UK by ICM for Amnesty International and the End Violence Against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights campaign. This report also includes a description, where relevant, of the variance between the results obtained amongst students in Northern Ireland with the other surveyed cohort.

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