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Guardian report reveals scale of sexual harassment in UK universities

10 March 2017

University students in a lecture hall

A Guardian investigation has revealed the scale of sexual harassment in UK universities, with almost 300 claims made against staff in the last six years.

However, lawyers and victims have told the Guardian that this is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, and many victims hadn’t reported the harassment as they were concerned about the impact it might have on their education or career prospects.

One graduate student who had been sexually assaulted by an academic at the university said:

‘They offered me a settlement on the condition that I drop out of the programme and accept that no internal investigation on the member of staff would take place.’

Anna Bull of the 1752 Group, a UK-based lobby group working to end staff-to-student sexual harassment in higher education, said:

‘There is evidence to suggest that the actual figures in the UK will be staggering.

‘The Association of American Universities undertook a detailed survey of sexual assault and sexual misconduct in 2015 (student-student and staff-student). Surveys were completed on 27 campuses, with 150,072 students responding.

‘The survey found reporting rates for sexual harassment — staff and student — [were] 7.7%, and only 28% of even the most serious incidents are reported to an organisation or agency.’

I’m worried I won’t be believed

A fear of not being believed is one of the reasons victims give for not reporting sexual harassment.

Regardless of whether you choose to report sexual assault or harassment to the police, support organisations like Victim Support will always believe you, and give you the support you need to move forward.

Was it my fault?

If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, this is never your fault — no matter the circumstances.

It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, whether you were drunk or if you’d had a sexual relationship with that person before, you’re not to blame and consent must always be given.

Can men be sexually harassed or assaulted?

Both men and women can be sexually harassed, assaulted or raped.

You can be sexually harassed by a man or woman, and this isn’t related to your own sexuality.

Getting support

If you’ve experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment, you can contact Victim Support for free, independent and confidential support.

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