Every fifth British women sexually abused at school: Survey

London, Feb 22 (IANS) At a time when universities the world over are struggling to tackle sexual assaults against female students on the campus, a shocking survey has revealed that one in five British women were sexually assaulted or even raped when they were in schools.

The survey conducted by non-profit organisation Plan UK found that 22 percent of 2,000 women surveyed reported having some experience of sexual touching, groping, flashing, sexual assault or rape while they were “in or around” school, Express.co.uk reported on Sunday.

“Our findings show that schoolgirls have been suffering in silence for decades. These experiences can have a devastating impact. Unwanted sexual contact can affect a girl’s self-esteem and educational achievements,” Tanya Barron, CEO of Plan UK, was quoted as saying.

The findings also showed that 61 percent of those who experienced some form of sexual assault did not report those to the school authorities.

“The figures show those who are younger are more likely to have been victims — suggesting the problem is on the rise,” the report added.

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 last year 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.

The new Plan UK poll found that across both genders, almost one in three aged 18 to 24 reported unwanted sexual contact. In the 65 and over group it was about one in 10.

Plan UK has stressed for new measures to prevent unwanted sexual contact in schools.

An alarming survey in the US last year 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.

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