University of Birmingham, take sexual assault seriously

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Students have been let down by universities when it comes to reporting sexual harassment and sexual assault. At our own institution, in the past 5 years, there have been 14 complaints relating to sexual harassment or sexual assault. 


That is 2.8 sexual assaults a year. 


A 2019 Brook Report found that 1 in 4 students who had been sexually assaulted went on to report it. 53% of students who responded had experienced unwanted sexual behaviour from fellow students. 49% of women have been inappropriately touched, yet only 5% felt comfortable to report it. 


The numbers do not add up. 


Often, when victims do report their assault, they are subjected to unfair and demoralising scrutiny. Where facts, like Universities’ UK Guidelines, stated that UOB had a duty to investigate student sexual misconduct on or off campus, these were ignored.  


Universities are claiming that they are working on systems to ensure that victims are being supported under the programme ‘You Report, We Support’. We know that the NotON ambassadors recommend students away from this services. It is a known secret, proven by the past experiences of other victims, that students who report their assault to the Universtiy’s ‘You Report, We Support’ team receive no resolution and no closure to their experience of sexual assault.

 

Women are more likely to experience this unwanted behaviour, and our university is continually reported in the press for letting our student body down. The underreporting, the suffering in silence, and the constant looking over our shoulders will continue. 


Today, we launch a petition asking our university to apologise, to take responsibility and take action, and to promise not only an ‘investigation’ but a task group designed to assist any student or staff member who wishes to participate, in order to deal with this crisis. The university should offer consent classes, as a number of other UK universities already do, to empower us as students to call out inappropriate behaviour when we see it.


The shoes outside the Harding Law Library represent the silent majority, those who are too scared to speak out, and those who know they will never get the closure they need to move on from sexual assault at the University of Birmingham.