‘Lad culture’ and the stigma surrounding sexual assault at UWE.

Image by Ben Gerdziunas.
Image by Ben Gerdziunas.

“They didn’t want to report the assault, because they knew the person and there was alcohol involved; they didn’t think anyone would believe them,” a source close to the victims told WesternEye. Speaking under condition of anonymity, he said two girls – both his friends, were sexually assaulted in UWE student accommodation in 2014: “It really messed with their heads; they just wanted to move on and try to forget it.”

The Students’ Union at UWE’s End It Now campaign (formerly Anti-Abuse Campaign) is raising awareness of abuse and harassment at university and want victims to feel safe enough to speak out.

Drinkaware, responding to the rise of ‘Lad Culture,’ published statistics showing that 54% of females and 14% of males surveyed had received inappropriate sexual comments, sexual abuse or sexual touching on a night out in the last 12 months.

During a SU club night in Hull, students were encouraged to “cheer if you want to f*** this girl. She’s keen, form a queue,” reported Huffington Post in November, 2015. This has been met by backlash across the UK.

“The universities and student unions have been working together in response to this national issue, through the newly set up Forum Against Sexual Violence and Harassment,” said Rachel Fenton, who leads the UWE Bystander Project aimed at educating. The project is supported by Public Health England.

“These [initiatives] build on actions last year aimed at raising awareness about sexual harassment and violence with students and staff, promoting and delivering ‘safe space’ on and off campus,” added Rachel.

An informal survey, conducted at UWE by WesternEye, asked men what they would do if they experienced sexual harassment or assault. A student, who preferred to remain anonymous, said:  “I would be too embarrassed to say anything.”

End It Now campaign runs in conjunction with our on-site Police Officer, Mark Brain. We take the safety of our students very seriously indeed. This has been backed up by an increase in the security team and more high profile security,” stated Kate Best, UWE’s Security Operations Manager.

A staff member at UWE, choosing not to disclose his name, told WesternEye: “It depends if I’d report it on who did it; it would be easier to report a stranger, but not a friend or family member.”

For help, support and advice, contact the following charitable organisations:

UWE Wellbeing Service

Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 86268

Address: 3F, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane BS16 1QY

E-mail: wellbeing@uwe.ac.uk

Rape and sexual assault referral centres: Sexual Assault Referral Centre – The Bridge

Contact Telephone Number: 0117 342 6999

Address: 2nd Floor, Central Health Clinic, Tower Hill, Bristol, BS2 0JD

Website: www.turntothebridge.org

E-mail: turntothebridge@uhbristol.nhs.uk

Somerset and Avon Rape and sexual abuse support
0117 929 956
UWE Security and Police:
Frenchay Room 1E20

Porters Office Bower Ashton Room 0B18

Porters Office Glenside Room 1H19
Police Constable Mark Brain
E-mail: Mark2.Brain@uwe.ac.uk
Telephone: +44(0)7805 124 524

By Chelsea McNulty