'Dis­turb­ing' sex­ual ha­rass­ment at Aus­tralian uni­ver­si­ties

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Sydney, Aus­tralia - More than half of univer­sity stu­dents in Aus­tralia were sex­u­ally ha­rassed last year and seven per­cent sex­u­ally as­saulted on at least one oc­ca­sion, a ‘dis­turb­ing’ new na­tional study re­vealed on Tues­day.

The find­ings came in an Aus­tralian Hu­man Rights Com­mis- sion re­port, con­ducted on be­half of the coun­try’s 39 uni­ver­si­ties that ques­tioned more than 30,000 stu­dents, after years of activism by women’s groups to dis­cover the ex­tent of the prob­lem.

Women were three times as likely as men to be sex­u­ally as­saulted and al­most twice as likely to be sex­u­ally ha­rassed, ei­ther on-cam­pus, trav­el­ling to and from the univer­sity or at off-cam­pus events en­dorsed by the in­sti­tu­tion.

“The un­avoid­able con­clu­sion of the data... is that in­ci­dents of sex­ual as­sault and sex­ual ha­rass­ment are oc­cur­ring at un­ac­cept­able rates at Aus­tralian uni­ver­si­ties,” said Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mis­sioner Kate Jenk­ins.

“While any­body can ex­pe­ri­ence sex­ual as­sault or sex­ual ha­rass­ment, it is clear from the data that women at univer­sity ex­pe­ri­ence th­ese be­hav­iours at dis­pro­por­tion­ately higher rates than men.”

“This adds weight to the body of ev­i­dence that high­lights dis­turb­ing rates of sex­ual vi­o­lence against women in Aus­tralia.”

The re­port said al­most a third of the ha­rass­ment oc­curred on univer­sity grounds or in teach­ing spa­ces, while one in five of the as­saults hap­pened at a univer­sity or res­i­dence so­cial event.

Aus­tralian uni­ver­si­ties, which have more than one mil­lion pupils en­rolled, are hugely pop­u­lar with in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, par­tic­u­larly from China and In­dia.

Many of those af­fected - in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional stu­dents - did not for­mally re­port the in­ci­dent, with the vast ma­jor­ity say­ing their univer­sity did not do enough to pro­vide clear di­rec­tion on what to do and where to seek sup­port.

“It broke my heart to read this re­port,” So­phie John­ston, from the Na­tional Union of Stu­dents, told re­porters.

“This is a cul­tural bat­tle we are fight­ing ev­ery­where.”

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