Stanford Rape Case: Victims past often scrutinised as UCC campaign offers much needed help

Approximately one in seven students at University College Cork say they have been a victim of rape or serious sexual assault.

Stanford Rape Case: Victims past often scrutinised as UCC campaign offers much needed help

This figure came out of research published last year, and it is feared that the number may actually be much higher.

The voluntary survey was carried out across the campus by students involved in the information campaign Know Offence.

Separate to the one in seven statistic, a further 33% of UCC students said they experienced minor sexual assaults, such as strangers “grinding up against them in a sexual manner”.

Another worrying finding was that 82% of those surveyed said they did not know how to report a sexual assault to campus authorities, even though there is a protocol in place where students bring an allegation to the head of their faculty.

A spokesperson from the Know Offence campaign told the Irish Examiner that the Stanford case is a perfect example of how a victim’s behaviour is scrutinised when it comes to a rape trial.

“This case brings to light how often a woman’s past is scrutinised in a rape case, i.e. — her promiscuity in the past, whereas the future of the perpetrator is taken into account as a means to lighten the punishment given,” said the spokesperson.

“For example, the fact that he was a good swimmer and would possibly go on to achieve great things in this sector was a huge aspect of this case and ultimately in the judge’s [another privileged white male] sentence handed down.”

The Know Offence campaign launched with the aim of dispelling myths surrounding sexual violence and to highlight services available to affected students.

One myth that the Stanford case is helping to dispel is that a rapist is not necessarily an unkempt dangerous criminal that a victim meets in a darkened alleyway.

The Know Offence spokesperson said the US case shines a light on ‘white male privilege’.

“I would say that this case is a perfect example of white male privilege,” said the spokesperson. “The first photo released of this boy was him in a suit standing upright, I think at his graduation.

“Whereas the first photos released after a black man rapes someone are usually ones where they are wearing a hoodie and looking somewhat suspicious, whatever that means.

“This case is the perfect example of one generation of man [his father] passing on the same sense of entitlement to the next.”

Other findings from the Know Offence research showed that just two people surveyed in UCC reported the alleged sexual assault to the university. Seven of the students surveyed reported their allegation to An Garda Síochána.

The results of this research match those of the Union of Students in Ireland, that showed 16% of Irish third-level students had experienced unwanted sexual encounter.

For more information on the Know Offence campaign go to www.facebook.com/KnowOffence.

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