Call for debate on sexual violence after ‘rape list’ found in school

Mary Crilly says ‘it’s not an isolated incident in terms of how some young boys view girls’

Davis College principal Stephen Gilbert said the school was treating the matter extremely seriously and had removed the list of names as soon staff learned of its existence. File photograph: Google Street View

Davis College principal Stephen Gilbert said the school was treating the matter extremely seriously and had removed the list of names as soon staff learned of its existence. File photograph: Google Street View

 

A campaigner against sexual violence has called for greater discussion among secondary school students about rape and sexual violence after somebody in a mixed Co Cork school posted “a rape list” of girls on the doors of a boys’ toilet.

Mary Crilly, director of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre, said she was horrified to learn somebody attending Davis College in Mallow had scrawled the list under the heading “The ones with the most ticks is going to get raped”.

“I am appalled but I wouldn’t be convinced, or at least I would hope, that it wouldn’t lead to a young girl being raped but it’s not an isolated incident in terms of how some young boys view girls,” she said.

“I visit a lot of schools and hear stories of girls being called ‘sluts’ and ‘whores’ as early as first year.

“If you look at the comments sent in the WhatsApp messages that came to light in the Belfast rape trial, there’s a shocking attitude out there among young men towards young women and that doesn’t start when someone is in their 30s or 40s, it starts when they are in their teens.”

The incident at Davis College, a co-educational school catering for some 820 pupils from the greater Mallow area, came to light when a parent contacted The Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM to say “the rape list”, which had 24 separate ticks, had been scrawled on a toilet door on Wednesday.

‘Took steps’

In a statement, Davis College principal Stephen Gilbert said the school was treating the matter extremely seriously and had removed the list of names as soon staff learned of its existence.

“The safety and wellbeing of all of our students is our top priority. We are taking this issue extremely seriously, and immediately took steps to address it with both the affected students and student body at large,” Mr Gilbert said.

“We spoke to each of the young ladies mentioned to answer any questions or concerns they had. We encouraged them - as we encourage all of our students - to come to us with any issues that may be of concern so that we can support them in any way possible.”

Davis College also confirmed that the matter been referred to An Garda Síochána and Ms Crilly welcomed confirmation by the school that it intends to make sure that the issue of sexual violence - is addressed among all its students.

“As I say, I’m appalled to hear of this ‘rape list’ but I’m glad that it is highlighted because other schools can have a look and see if that is something that they can address too - it’s important that teenage boys are challenged as any toxic masculinity that is informing their views of girls,” she said.

“And they should be challenged on their views of rape - that it’s not just sex that a girl doesn’t want but also that it’s an intrusion that can impact hugely on their lives - one in five girls in this country is sexually assaulted so it’s certainly no joke and needs to be challenged straight away.

“Putting up this list is also a form of bullying and I think everybody in the school, male and female, needs to know why it is wrong - it’s appalling that girls should have their names picked out like this but I wonder how those responsible would feel if they saw their sister’s name on the list?”

‘Tragedy’

Cliona Sadlier, executive director of the Rape Crisis Network, said she was “appalled” and “angry” when she learned of the list.

“When you think of this, you can only see this as a tragedy,” she said. “These are children… not only do we have those girls named on that list, but every single girl in that school and every single boy in that school has got a message out of this.”

Ms Sadlier said there are wider questions to be answered over why young boys believe drawing such a list was fun or an expression of their masculinity.

“The boys themselves are children, we can’t forget that,” she told Newstalk.

“I think we have let them down. What have we delivered to them that this is what they think a performance of masculinity is, in terms of what they think is good fun? I think there is a lot of work to be done unpacking that.

“If we have a culture that is sending out these messages to boys, whether it from pop culture, sports culture, these WhatsApp group conversations that are misogynistic and sexist, where are the men who are stepping forward to counter this message?”