NUS Scotland have signalled their intent to end sexual and gender-based violence across Scotland’s college and university campuses through their new preventative gender-based violence toolkit.
The launch comes as NUS Scotland take part in the United Nations ‘16 days of activism against gender-based violence’, taking place Sunday 25th November, the national the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.
NUS research has found that 1 in 5 students have experienced sexual harassment during their first week of term. This follows research in 2010 which showed that 14 per cent of women students had experienced serious sexual violence, the majority of which was carried out by fellow students. Police Scotland report 2,225 accounts of rape and attempted rape in 2017-18, a 20% increase from the previous year.
The toolkit, launched today (Monday 26th November) by NUS Scotland, calls on student associations to adopt zero tolerance policies to gender-based violence, provide staff and student training to combat GBV and to safeguard and support the survivors of violence. The toolkit further outlines 16 actions students’ associations can take to mark the 16 days of activism.
The news comes as the Scottish Government deliver the one-year update on their ‘Equally Safe’ delivery strategy, the national framework for eliminating violence against women and girls.
Commenting, NUS Scotland Officer Shuwanna Aaron said:
“NUS Scotland has designed this toolkit with one goal in mind: to bring an end to sexual and gender-based violence occurring throughout Scotland’s colleges and universities.
“Gender based violence on our campuses reflects a wider system of inequality and power imbalances between men and women. The prevalence of ‘locker room chat’, ‘lad banter’ and persistent victim blaming normalises aggressive, violent and sexualised behaviour.
“NUS research has shown that a shocking 1 in 5 students experience sexual harassment within their first week of term alone. We have been proud to work with the Scottish Government on their Equally Safe national framework for combatting gender-based violence, but we know we can do more.
“Our toolkit makes clear that student associations should take a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of gender-based violence. We recommend that staff are trained on how to support survivors of sexual violence, ensuring our campuses are safe and secure for our members to thrive in their studies.”