OUSU combats sexual violence

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ithappensA campaign to raise awareness of sexual violence in the University, called ‘It Happens Here’, has been launched by WomCam, an autonomous OUSU group promoting women’s interests.

According to NUS figures, one in four female undergraduates will have experienced some sort of sexual violence. Across Oxford, the group claims, this amounts to around 1,400 students.

However, the campaign is keen to stress its relevance to both male and female students, quoting the statistic that three in twenty men will have experienced sexual violence.

The campaign will be using a variety of schemes to attract interest. Significantly, the ‘GoodLad’ programme will aim to question the behavioural stereotypes associated with ‘lad’ culture.  Currently launched in association with Oxford University Rugby Club, it will consist of a series of workshops aimed at young male students.

Dan Guinness, a Keblite, who helped to set up the GoodLad scheme, told OUSUnews: “There tends to be a situation where men are actually left out of the discussion. They don’t feel like they need to participate in these discussions about gender.

“[GoodLad] is trying to challenge this idea of lad culture, and what it is to be a man.”

The scheme, which targets sports teams and drinking societies as a points of problematic ‘lad culture’, will also focus on crewdating, trying to get women’s teams to  only crewdate teams that have been through the workshops.

In addition, as the first of several high-profile speaker events for the campaign, Bianca Jagger gave a talk, “Let’s End Violence Against Women”, at the Union this Wednesday.

There has also been a prominent poster campaign, organised with the help of the South African “Consent is Sexy” group, as well as a Youtube video to celebrate the launch. The campaign is based around the noticeboard format that WomCam has used in the past.

Suzanne Holsomback, OUSU Women’s Officer, tried to dispel the myths surrounding sexual assaults at Oxford, saying in an interview with OUSUnews: “What would make Oxford students different from anywhere else in the world? Just because they’re bright does not mean it does not happen to them”.

Natalie Brook, a manager at the Oxford Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre, commented: “The ‘It Happens Here’ campaign is a very welcome initiative in Oxford. Raising awareness of issues of sexual violence and taking proactive steps to prevent it is critical to the work that must take place if violence against women and girls is to end. “

She continued: “From the work we do at Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre with young people we know that issues of sexual consent, respect and healthy relationships are areas students and other young people are keen to discuss and understand and we have been working closely with OUSU to support their work on this. We’re delighted that this work has sparked the ‘GoodLad’ project and the conversations amongst men and their peers about their role in tackling violence against women.”

More information, as well as advice, is available at www.oxfordrapecrisis.net.

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