by Paula Dunn, Glasgow Rape Crisis
Coping with Sexual Violence at School
The Rosey Project, the prevention project at Glasgow Rape Crisis, has been supporting young women between the ages of 13 – 17 since 2005. During this time we have helped young women who have raped or sexually assaulted by a boy they go to school with. On some occasions the rape has taken place inside the school. A news article in October 2014 reported police statistics 2011 – 2013, revealing that 328 sexual offences took place in Scottish schools, 48 of these offences being rape.
At the Rosey Project, we’re unfortunately not surprised by these figures. What we are concerned about is how schools deal with this issue. As I have said, we have supported young women who have been raped in their school. Recently we also helped a young woman who had been raped outside of school by a peer. It does not matter where the rape has taken place. The devastating impact it has on her life and education is the same.
In our experience teachers are not trained or equipped to deal with disclosures of rape. In cases where the perpetrator is also a pupil at their school they seem to have even less confidence in properly dealing with the issue.
As you might imagine when a young woman is raped by a peer at her school she will become anxious and sometimes isolated. Often the perpetrator continues to bully the victim in order to silence her or provoke her in to being violent to try and convince people ‘she is crazy’. We have dealt with cases like this where a victim has been further exposed to risk as she is bullied by the perpetrator or his friends. The teacher’s response is often to tell the young woman to just walk away. This is easier said than done when you’re trapped in a corner by a group of angry young men.
We have worked with a young woman who, whilst defending herself against a physical assault by the perpetrator and his friends, was disciplined for hitting him and threatened with expulsion. The teacher’s response when I queried this was that they cannot tolerate any violent behaviour. The young woman should have walked away and told a teacher. This is a completely inappropriate response. There is a lack of training and understanding about the impact of sexual violence and this needs to be addressed to help young women.
We try and work closely with teachers if we are supporting a young woman at school. Glasgow Rape Crisis understands that the teacher’s job is to achieve academic results but it is also their job to ensure that all pupils feel safe and supported. Any issues that might affect this and their mental health should be managed and dealt with appropriately.
We offer training for teachers to help them deal better with disclosures and hopefully in the future, young women will feel supported in raising issues of sexual violence and assaults in the school environment.
Ellie Hutchinson, Scottish Women’s Aid
The 16 days of activism against gender based violence run from the 25th November – 10th December. These 16 days encompass the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women (25th November), World AIDS day (1st Dec) and Human Rights Day (10th Dec). This fortnight and a bit focuses activists, governments, charities and individuals on celebrating and supporting survivors and remembering those who were killed in acts of gender based violence. Every year a theme is set to guide groups and make connections across countries and continents. This year, the theme is militarism. Exploring the links between violence against women and girls and war, peace and the military… please read more by clicking here.
At Scottish Women’s Aid, we’re working with a whole range of organisations; theatre and film groups, Edinburgh University, MSPs and other violence and women and girls charities on a range of events. We have –
- A film screening of the Whistleblower alongside the Filmhouse, Scottish Refugee Council, Amnesty International Scotland and WILPF, and details of this can be found
- A evening lecture with the School of Social and Political Studies at Edinburgh University
- A seminar with the Scottish Commission for Human Rights.
Aside from these thematic events, another piece of work which we’ve launched is a survey on so called ‘revenge porn’- or, as we’d like to call it “non-consensual sharing of intimate media”. More of a mouthful, but it tells us much more about what is happening. It’s not about revenge and it’s not about porn. It’s about humiliation, manipulation, coercion and fear. If someone has threatened you with sharing images, films, photos, or any other file or has shared those files without your consent, it’s not ok. It’s not your fault and we are here for you. You can fill out the survey by clicking here.
This survey is the first of its kind in Scotland. We’re hoping to find out more about people’s experiences and what our next step should be. How have services responded if people have come forwarded? What do those who have been victimised in this way think about the issue? Without asking those questions, our answers will always be incomplete. To really tackle an issue, we must ask the people who have been directly affected by it.
That’s what the 16 days of activism helps us to do – put women and girl’s front and centre of all our work. When we remember women who have been killed by men, and celebrate those who are able to fight for equality and freedom, we must hear women’s stories, value their voices, learn from their experiences and work together in solidarity in order to achieve freedom from violence for all. For more information on what we’re up to this 16 days head over to our blog here.
by Kathryn Maclean
A week before Scotland decided NO, I went to the Big Debate at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. There were 8000 first time voters, who were school pupils, with free Wi-Fi for us to tweet and share what we were debating at the event. I was shocked at how many people in my generation were taking an interest in the referendum. I came out more confused about what I wanted to vote than I did going in. I read up on the subject but many things were bias. There was so much about the future of Scotland and what you thought that meant to you.
My idea of a future Scotland is not one in which you have to repress your own opinion in fear of being attacked in the street or being shouted down at by people that do not even know who you are. Even worse if its people you do know.
My idea of a future Scotland is one which has better job opportunities for young people, a free education and a safe place to stay. I felt that the referendum gave people the hope that someday it might get better even if it was a yes or a no vote.
As it was a No vote, I witnessed fights and arguments on Facebook between the voters. There was a riot in my area at the result. I am honestly glad that it is all over and done with as it was pulling communities apart. When I entered that polling station on September 18th, yes I might not have known what I wanted to vote but I knew I wanted one which would benefit the people of Scotland. People united for one cause, no matter if they voted yes or no, to make Scotland a fairer and more equal place.
We’ve had a number from young women tell us what they want to see at our event in the Autumn.
But we want to call on more young women to get involved and tell us what they want to see at our event.
What do you want to be discussed at our event?
“Women are for sale. Our bodies are seen as public property to be viewed, rated and reviewed.” – Linda Thomson, Women’s Support Project.
Sexuality is something which has been socially constructed – how we understand and experience sex is heavily contingent upon the cultural and historical circumstances in which we live.
Do you think the way young women are portrayed in the media has a direct impact on your life? Do you have any examples of how you feel like you are public property?