Belfast Telegraph

New 400,000 euro initiative to tackle sexual harassment at universities

The initiative aims to create a ‘culture of change’ at campuses across the country.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor wants a ‘culture change’ on campuse s(Brian Lawless/PA).
Mary Mitchell O’Connor wants a ‘culture change’ on campuse s(Brian Lawless/PA).

A 400,000 euro effort to tackle sexual violence and harassment on Irish university campuses should be a game-changer, the Government said.

The initiative aims to create a safe and supportive environment, higher education minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor said.

She said sexual violence and harassment had no place in the State’s educational institutions.

I want the results to be comprehensive and game-changing Mary Mitchell O'Connor

“It is unacceptable that any student, researcher or staff member should experience it.

“Through the development of this framework, I believe we can escalate an institutional culture change on our campuses.

“Institutions have a duty of care to their students and staff and this framework is about instigating change.

“I want the results to be comprehensive and game-changing.”

The Framework for Consent in Higher Education Institutions was developed by an advisory group comprising academics, students and leaders in the area of sexual health among students.

They were tasked with devising standards that all institutions will be required to implement.

Funding of 400,000 euro is to be made available over the period 2019-2020 to assist institutions.

A 2013 Union of Students in Ireland (USI) report entitled “Say Something” found that 16 per cent of those who responded to a survey had experienced unwanted sexual contact.

Around five per cent of women said they had been raped, and a further three per cent said they had been the victims of attempted rape.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre runs an “Ask Consent” campaign and has spent a lot of time at campus events.

PA

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