By Amy McMahon
The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has partnered with Ending Sexual Harassment and Violence in Third Level Education (ESHTE) in a new campaign, #ItStopsNow.
The campaign has come about as an answer to the growing problem of sexual violence and harassment faced by third – level students.
It calls for collective action to ensure the safety, equality and full participation of every student.
31 per cent of female students in Ireland have reported feeling harassed in their current educational institution, with one in four experiencing unwanted physical groping.
Research shows that women from marginalised groups are most at risk, particularly those living with disabilities or from migrant or ethnic minority communities.
Campaign co – ordinator Tara Brown stated that; “the highest risk factor in experiencing sexual violence is simply being a woman. In Europe, women and girls represent 8 out of 10 victims of sexual assault. This is particularly prevalent amongst women aged 18 – 25.”
“#ItStopsNow builds on the momentum of movements like #MeToo by empowering students to lead change, by ending victim – blaming attitudes, believing and supporting survivors, challenging toxic behaviours, and understanding and ensuring genuine consent.”
#ItStopsNow is informed by extensive research and student focus groups across four European countries.
The campaign showcases the experiences and perspectives of students on issues of sexual violence and gender inequality, ranging from incidents of rape, groping, stalking and catcalling to online harassment, secret filming, and the sharing of private or unsolicited, explicit images.
Under – reporting of these issues remains a significant problem, with only three per cent of students reporting incidents to their institute or An Garda Síochána.
Director of NWCI Orla O’Connor said; “The #ItStopsNow campaign envisions a future where women students do not have to contend with sexual harassment and violence.”
“Working with all stakeholders and participants in third – level life, the campaign promotes meaningful institutional and cultural change.”
“This includes the development of policy frameworks which outline effective reporting and disclosure channels, offering positive support services, and providing ongoing training to ensure a long – term, progressive impact.”