Half of students say rape victims who flirt culpable

 

CLOSE TO half of Northern Ireland students believe that women rape victims who had acted flirtatiously or failed to say "no" clearly were totally or partially responsible for being assaulted, according to a new survey.

The poll of 715 students from the University of Ulster's four campuses in the North found that 44 per cent of students believed that a woman was totally or partially responsible if she was raped or sexually assaulted while drunk.

The survey on violence against women by Amnesty found that 46 per cent of respondents believed women were totally or partially responsible if raped or assaulted after behaving flirtatiously.

The figure was higher again at 48 per cent of respondents believing women carried such levels of responsibility if raped or sexually assaulted after failing to say "no" clearly. It was 47 per cent for those attributing such levels of responsibility for women raped or sexually assaulted while "alone and walking in a dangerous or deserted area".

Thirty per cent felt women were totally or partially responsible if attacked while wearing "sexy or revealing clothes" and 33 per cent believing they must carry some of the blame if they had "many sexual partners".

Amnesty said the findings were indicative of a worrying female "blame culture" in Northern Ireland. The statistics are significantly higher than the findings of a UK-wide poll of adults in 2005 which found that 34 per cent of respondents felt women who flirt carried responsibility for being attacked, with 26 per cent saying revealing clothes was a factor.

The survey further found that 44 per cent of respondents knew at least one woman or girl who had been hit by a boyfriend or partner, while 15 per cent knew either a few or a lot of women or girls who had been hit by a boyfriend or partner.

It also found that 32 per cent knew at least one woman or girl who had been coerced or pressurised to have sex by a boyfriend/partner, with 11 per cent of respondents knowing a few or a lot of women or girls who had been coerced or pressurised to have sex by a boyfriend/partner.

Amnesty International Northern Ireland said the results of the survey were disturbing.

"It's shocking that so many students lay the blame for being raped or assaulted at the feet of women themselves. If we are going to break a cycle of violence against women in Northern Ireland, we need to start by challenging attitudes amongst students and the population at large," said Amnesty programme director Patrick Corrigan.