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One in three female students subjected to 'rape-like' assaults


52pc of female students said they were sexually assaulted. Stock image

52pc of female students said they were sexually assaulted. Stock image

52pc of female students said they were sexually assaulted. Stock image

Almost one in three female students have been subjected to sex involving force or incapacitation due to alcohol or drugs, according to a survey.

The combination of a lack of consent and the tactics used in these incidents most closely correspond to the legal definition of rape used in Ireland.

The problem is not confined to women. Alongside the 29pc of females reporting such experiences are 10pc of males and 28pc of non-binary students - those who identify as neither male nor female.

The extent of sexual harassment and violence among students emerges in a report from the NUI Galway Active* Consent initiative and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

More than 6,000 students in 14 universities and institutes of technology completed the survey between February and April of this year.

While the Sexual Experiences Survey is not based on a representative sample of students, the number of responses - more than half of them from women - suggests a serious problem.

Report co-author Dr Padraig MacNeela, a lecturer in psychology, said it provided "a stark depiction of the experiences that many students have had", including the "more than 1,000 females who described incidents that correspond to rape".


Dr MacNeela also noted that one-quarter of male students said they had been subject to sexual misconduct during their time in college - and bisexual, non-binary, and queer students described particularly high levels of sexual harassment.

USI vice-president for welfare Roisin O'Donovan said the 6,000 responses showed that perceptions and practices regarding sexual consent and misconduct "remains a huge issue among students".

The survey aimed to provide the first comprehensive snapshot of student sexual health experiences, through measures that have been used in international studies.

Questions about sexual misconduct explored non-consensual contact ranging from unwanted touching, to attempted or completed penetration, including where incapacitation or the use or threat of force was a tactic.

The problem starts in first year when more than one-third (38pc) of students report being victims of some form of sexual misconduct, most commonly while incapacitated, rising to almost half (47pc) by the time they finish college.

The findings include that 52pc of female, 49pc of non-binary and 27pc of male students experienced unwanted touching, completed or attempted penetration.

Almost half of men, over a third of women and a quarter of non-binary students did not disclose the incident to anyone, many because they thought it was not serious enough.