The Conservative government have ordered an inquiry into violence against female students at universities, with the aim of reducing it.
A taskforce is to be created to look into the problem of sexual assault and violence occurring at university campuses across the UK. They will also set out a code of practice “to support cultural change” and promote better relations with the police and local authorities.
In a recent survey by the National Union of Students (NUS), it was revealed that one in seven had experienced serious physical or sexual violence during their time at university. Over two-thirds of those surveyed had suffered either verbal or non-verbal harassment in and around their campus. This included ‘groping, flashing and unwanted sexual comments.’
NUS also discovered that these acts were unlikely to be reported – either to the police or the university, themselves. The report found that just 2 percent of those who had suffered a less serious sexual assault would report it to the authorities – with the most common reason for this being due to the victim feeling the crime was not serious enough. The most common reason for not reporting a more serious sexual crime was due to feeling embarrassed and ashamed.
Business secretary, Sajid Javid said, “Nobody should be put off going to university because of fears about their safety. If my children choose that path, I would expect my daughter to be as safe as my son on any campus in this country.”
He continued, “This taskforce will ensure that universities have a plan to stamp out violence against women and provide a safe environment for all their students. We do not tolerate this behaviour in any part of society and I’m not prepared to let it take place on university campuses unchecked.”
The taskforce is due to assemble in autumn and will report back to the Universities Minister, Jo Johnson in 12 months.