Training for students against sexual violence

Board members and pub commissioners with Groningen student associations are receiving training in how to recognise (sexually) transgressive behaviour among students.

The first day of training just so happened to coincide with Amnesty International publishing a report that showed that more than one in ten female students were the victim of rape during their time at university. It also happens to 1 percent of male students.

‘In autumn of last year, we were talking to the GGD and the Night Council. They’d published a report about inappropriate behaviour in nightlife’, says Maureen van Blerk, external relations manager at Dizkartes. ‘We met with them to discuss how we could do something about this issue at the association.’

Intervene

This discussion led to the idea to provide a training. ‘If board members and pub commissioners learn how to recognise transgressive behaviour, we can intervene faster’, says Van Blerk.

The training will be provided by the Sexual Assault Center, Sense Noord-Nederland, and the Night Council. Other student associations have also joined in. ‘We discussed the issue at Contractus, the overarching organisation for the student associations in Groningen. Every association can participate in the training’, say Van Blerk.

Awareness

The numbers that Amnesty International published on Wednesday showed once again that it’s important to raise awareness of transgressive behaviour among students. While 14 percent of victims say the incident has impacted or is still impacting their studies or their mental health, only 3 percent reported the incident to their institute’s confidential adviser.

The Sexual Assault Center also provides professional help for people who’ve been the victim of sexual assault.

Cultural change

The National Student Union (LSVb) says the numbers show the need for a cultural change at educational institutes and among students. ‘Students don’t always take sexually transgressive behaviour seriously’, says LSVb chair Lyle Muns.

‘We have to create an opportunity for people to talk about it and make sure that people committing this kind of behaviour suffer the consequences.’ The education institutes also have a role to play in this, the LSVb says. They should clearly publish how to report an incident on their websites, and they should also explain how these reports are dealt with.

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