Females face rising sexual assault on US campuses

Washington, Sep 22 (IANS) An alarming survey in the US has revealed that one in four female students experience sexual assault on American campuses.

The Association of American Universities (AAU), which surveyed 150,000 students from 27 colleges and universities, found that 27.2 percent of female college seniors had experienced some kind of unwanted sexual contact – anything from touching to rape, the New York Times reported.

Nearly half of those, 13.5 percent, had experienced penetration, attempted penetration or oral sex.

According to the findings, even in the most serious assaults, almost three-fourths of victims did not report the episode to anyone.

The reason given were that they did not think the episodes were serious enough to report while some said they felt ashamed or did not think they would be taken seriously.

Most universities in the study released their own figures from the survey – 34.6 percent female college seniors at Yale, 34.3 percent at University of Michigan and 29.2 percent at Harvard University.

The findings showed that, when including acts carried out without force or incapacitation but with coercion or lack of consent, one-third of senior women had experienced unwanted sexual contact in college.

Across the 27 universities, men experienced much lower rates of sexual assault than women. Nearly 8.6 percent of male seniors said they had faced some kind of unwanted sexual contact.

Transgender students and others who do not identify as either male or female had higher rates of assault than women, the survey reported.

A latest survey by the British National Union of Students (NUS) found that British universities have “failed to tackle lad culture”, with only one in 10 institutions including relevant policies in the freshers’ welcome pack.

Defined as “a subset of student life that promotes one particular masculinity,” the “lad culture” – a local euphemism like ‘eve teasing’ in India for sexual harassment – has made campus life difficult for female students, especially freshers.

Freshers report more and more cases of groping, sexual persecution and violence at British universities.

In another NUS survey of over 2,000 men and women students, almost one third of respondents said they endure unwanted sexual comments about their body (37 percent of women).

The report also found that “many” universities first ask victims to make efforts to solve matters “informally”.

A Guardian investigation in May found that fewer than half of Britain’s top universities were monitoring the extent of the problem while one in six did not have specific guidelines for students on how to report such allegations.

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