Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.55 22 Jun 2020


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Three in ten (29%) female college students say they've experienced non-consensual sex during their time in college, according to a new survey.

The survey - conducted by NUI Galway's Active Consent Programme and the USI - of more than 6,000 students shows 10% of males and 28% of non-binary students also reported 'reported non-consensual penetration by incapacitation, force, or threat of force'.

Almost half of male, a third of female and a quarter of non-binary students never reported the incident.

Meanwhile, just over half of first year students reported experiencing sexual harassment in the form of some form of sexual hostility since beginning college - increasing to 62% for second year students, and 66% for those in third year or higher.

Dr Pádraig MacNeela, co-author of the report and senior lecturer at the School of Psychology NUI Galway, spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about the findings.

He explained: "29% of female students have described something happening to them during their time in college which is close to the legal definition of rape. That's the voices of over 1,000 women.

"When we break down the figures, we can see that the rate of non-consensual sexual experiences for males is about 10%... we've also included non-binary students - their experiences are similar to women."

In terms of not disclosing incidents, Dr MacNeela said: "The different reasons people spoke about was they felt in some cases it wasn't serious enough, or they thought they wouldn't be believed... this wasn't in reference necessarily to the guards, but these were the reasons why people hadn't disclosed."

He suggested that while the findings are negative, there is a way forward for colleges and universities to address the issues.

He said: "There is evidence that consent workshops are making a significant inroad now into college experiences, but at the same time three-quarters of students aren't getting that sort of programming in first year.

"The overall positive trend that I can see is that there is a consent framework from the Department of Education which is very progressive - it probably stacks up with anything internationally.

"Hopefully these findings will be a real impetus for colleges to engage - but of course they'll need support too... it's a very difficult time for colleges."

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Jens Kalaene/DPA/PA Images

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