MENZ Issues

Sexual assault at NZ universities

I’ve recently come across this Australian study of sexual harassment and assault on Aussie campuses: https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/sex-discrimination/publications/change-course-national-report-sexual-assault-and-sexual?_ga=2.229810588.1021617999.1590021521-1687158381.1589180855

Though it’s been reported under headlines claiming it shows ‘widespread’ harassment and assault, it’s worth noting two things.

One is that the definition of harassment is very broad, including ‘inappropriate leering or staring, sexually suggestive comments or jokes, and intrusive questions about someone’s private life or physical appearance.’ And in fact, these were the most common forms of ‘harassment’ that were reported.

The second point is that only 1.6% of respondents reported sexual assault in a university environment. Obviously that’s just allegations that haven’t been proven, but even so it contradicts the official narrative that universities are more dangerous in terms of sexual assault than other contexts.

At Vic uni there’s long been a campaign called ‘Thursdays in Black’ to get students and staff to wear dark clothing in mourning for the supposedly high rates of assault. I haven’t seen a NZ study similar to the Aussie one yet (and would like to), but it looks likely the idea that NZ unis have an epidemic of sexual assault is as false as it is in Australia.