Rape Cri­sis ap­palled by ‘sick jokes’


Vic­to­ria Univer­sity students are em­broiled in a row about rape jokes ap­pear­ing in on- cam­pus graf­fiti and on a stu­dent- run Face­book page.

Welling­ton Rape Cri­sis has spo­ken out against the stu­dent rape-re­lated ‘‘hu­mour’’ af­ter jokes triv­i­al­is­ing the crime ap­peared on Over­heard@vic.

It is par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about the post­ing of a pho­to­graph of graf­fiti on univer­sity prop­erty that said, ‘‘I be­lieve in rape’’.

Rape Cri­sis agency man­ager Natalie Gous­mett said the agency had worked with Vic­to­ria Univer­sity students who had been raped.

She was dis­gusted by the graf­fiti and the pic­ture.

‘‘Rape is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing up there,’’ she said. ‘‘We have quite a few clients who are students, and we work with students from Vic who are raped while they are at univer­sity.’’

A crim­i­nol­ogy lec­turer at the univer­sity agreed there was a prob­lem, and that one of the ori­gins of rape ‘‘hu­mour’’ was the vic­tim-blam­ing cul­ture as­so­ci­ated with sex­ual as­sault.

‘‘We’re still see­ing women as be­ing the temptress and men . . . com­pletely at the whim of their sex­ual urges,’’ said as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of crim­i­nol­ogy Jan Jor­dan.

Vic­to­ria Univer­sity com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Maria Cobden said stu­dent safety was a key fo­cus, and the univer­sity had part­nered with po­lice and Welling­ton City Coun­cil to pro­mote aware­ness of per­sonal safety.

Other in­ci­dents of rape-re­lated ‘‘hu­mour’’ ap­pear on the Face­book page, such as ‘‘you’ve got to rape the pa­per, man, you can’t let the pa­per rape you’’ and ‘‘at least ugly girls don’t get raped’’.

Ms Gous­mett said that kind of hu­mour triv­i­alised the pain and trauma as­so­ci­ated with rape.

‘‘Rape has far-reach­ing ef­fects and it’s not some­thing to be joked about,’’ she said.

The graf­fiti was also up­set­ting for students who went to the Face­book page.

Fe­male hon­ours stu­dent Sa­man­tha Keene, who de­manded the pic­ture be re­moved, said she was dis­gusted some­body would post it.

‘‘ Over­heard is meant to be some­thing funny and light­hearted, but for some, ob­vi­ously rape is funny for them,’’ she said.

‘‘ This pic­ture was re­moved within about two hours. How­ever, it was up two hours too long.’’

She said the graf­fiti was not an iso­lated in­ci­dent and that rape jokes fre­quently made an ap­pear­ance on the page.

Vic­to­ria Students’ As­so­ci­a­tion women’s of­fi­cer Sara Bishop was ap­palled by the graf­fiti.

Such dis­mis­sive at­ti­tudes re­vealed a need for height­ened aware­ness of sex­ual as­sault among students, she said.

‘‘We need to run things like con­sent work­shops dur­ing [ ori­en­ta­tion] week. It’s re­ally ba­sic stuff.

‘‘A lot of young peo­ple prob­a­bly didn’t pick all this up dur­ing high school sex ed.’’

How­ever, de­spite the students’ as­so­ci­a­tion’s con­tin­ued ef­forts to pro­mote Welling­ton Rape Cri­sis’ ser­vices, rais­ing aware­ness was an area where Vic­to­ria Univer­sity was lack­ing, said Ms Bishop.

She said students’ as­so­ci­a­tion ad­vo­cacy ser­vices had sup­ported students who had been sex­u­ally as­saulted on cam­pus and re­ferred them to Rape Cri­sis.

The as­so­ci­a­tion also or­gan­ised a cam­pus safety sur­vey, in which up to 15 per cent of students in­di­cated they had ex­pe­ri­enced stalk­ing while on cam­pus at night.

She was aware Vic­to­ria’s halls of res­i­dence had ‘‘tech­ni­cally com­pre­hen­sive’’ rules against sex­ual harass­ment, but was un­sure how well they were po­liced.

Ms Keene said she was not aware of any pro­grammes ini­ti­ated by Vic­to­ria to raise aware­ness of sex­ual as­sault, and be­lieved the sub­ject needed to be dis­cussed more openly on cam­pus.

Vic­to­ria’s Maria Cobden said the univer­sity planned to use re­sources pre­pared by Rape Cri­sis as part of its Who Are You cam­paign for up­com­ing ori­en­ta­tion events.

‘‘In ad­di­tion, our health and coun­selling staff deal with students on a one-on-one ba­sis,’’ Ms Cobden said.

She said the agency had run a sex and ethics pro­gramme last year for sec­ondary and ter­tiary students, with sup­port from the Min­istry of Jus­tice.

But de­spite a pos­i­tive eval­u­a­tion, she said no fur­ther fund­ing was al­lo­cated for the pro­gramme.

man­ager ’ Rape Cri­sis agency

Natalie Gous­mett Con­cerned: Rape Cri­sis man­ager Natalie Gous­mett said the jokes about rape were ‘‘com­pletely dis­re­spect­ful’’ to women who had been raped. Triv­i­al­is­ing rape: Some of the graf­fiti Vic­to­ria Univer­sity students have found offensive.

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