UCC students unveil mural against sexual violence in college
Mural part of ‘It Stops Now’ campaign to dispel popular myths about sexual violence
‘It Stops Now’: campaign aims to tackle the harmful behaviours which prevent students from being able to safely and equally participate in college life. Photograph: It Stops Now
University College Cork students will unveil a mural on Monday calling for an end to sexual violence and harassment in third-level institutions.
It is part of a campaign by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) to create a culture of zero tolerance towards such behaviours.
The NWCI’s “It Stops Now” campaign is a part of UCC’s “Bystander Intervention Week”, which is aimed at empowering students and staff to recognise and tackle sexual violence and harassment in a meaningful way.
“The It Stops Now mural will be installed by students outside the Boole Basement, and is an engaging installation which dispels popular myths and ingrained attitudes towards sexual violence and harassment,” co-ordinator Tara Brown said.
“It calls on people to believe survivors, become active bystanders, and always check consent.
“It aims to tackle the harmful behaviours which prevent students from being able to safely and equally participate in college life . . . reminding us of our shared responsibilities in creating a culture of zero tolerance to sexual violence and harassment, both on and off campus,” she said.
Last September, Mary Crilly, director of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre, revealed that three young female students from UCC and CIT had contacted them since the start of September to say they had been raped. Two of the three had dropped out of their courses to return home to their families.
Ms Crilly told a Cork City Council Joint Policing Committee meeting that an American study had found that more freshers were sexually assaulted and raped from September to November, when some are attending parties and drinking for the first time.
She said that the Cork Sexual Violence Centre notices a similar increase in young women contacting them when UCC and CIT return but often the young women may not have been drinking and in one of the recent cases, the attack happened in the woman’s own building.
Speaking in advance of the unveiling of the mural, Ms Brown said the “It Stops Now” campaign and mural call on everyone to play an active role in challenging toxic behaviours, ending victim-blaming attitudes and start believing survivors that facilitate sexual violence.
“One in three women in Europe will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Sexual assault doesn’t exist in a vacuum – catcalling, sexist jokes and ‘slut shaming’ lay the foundations of a sexual violence culture,” she said.
“It is fantastic to see the engagement of students here in UCC on this campaign. Empowering students to lead change is essential, because the values they take from their college experience will shape a better, more equal society for everyone.”
Dr Louise Crowley, who leads the UCC Bystander Intervention Programme, said that those involved in the programme can and will effect a vital cultural change by tackling a destructive social behaviour through positive education, student empowerment and university management support.