As unions and universities, we have the perfect opportunity to grab the attention of young people moving into their new home. We can show them that it's okay to speak about consent and it's okay to speak about rape. We can be the ones to help survivors report and ask for help. We can be the ones to help destroy the shame that so often nips at their heels.
I hope that none of you have known the pain, terror, shame and hatred that come with a sexual assault. However a sad statistic states that in 2014 20% of women and 9% of men between the ages of sixteen and fifty nine have. And those are the ones that have been brave enough to come forward and report it.
The devastation to all sides which can be caused by an accusation of a sexual crime was made clear to the players during the session. A former detective with Sussex police put them through the kind of interrogation and explains the forensic examination that a man will face if accused of a sexual crime.
It seems a lot of people really, REALLY don't get what 'consent' means. From the famous "not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion" to the student that (allegedly) thought he'd surprise his partner with some non consensual BDSM to that fucking song to almost every damn comment on any article by anyone that suggests that yes means yes; it seems people really have a problem understanding that before you have sex with someone, and that's every time you have sex with them, make sure they want to have sex with you.
Here's the resounding message: 'Don't get raped!'. Why is there no talk telling people not to rape, and teaching them what constitutes rape? Considering that most victims of sexual assault are assaulted by somebody they know, the 'don't walk home alone' message is proving to be falling short in protecting students. We need something more.
Maybe I hadn't been the incredibly mature and sophisticated young woman who had attracted an older man. Maybe this wasn't a romantic tale of sexual awakening and empowerment at all. I started desperately trying to sort through my memories. Listening to his friend get angry with him and talking about statutory rape, and not knowing what that meant.
For too long has sexual harassment and violence plagued the University institutions in the UK. For too long have these everyday sexism issues gone on. For too long have Universities failed to do anything constructive and effective about the issues that they are very much aware of. There is now such a dire need to tackle them head-on that it has fallen to students themselves to try and stop this phenomenon of 'rape culture'. ..
"I believe", Mary told me at her house in Cork, "the biggest issue around this is human rights. The human right to decide what you want to do for yourself. " Regarding Electroshock in Ireland, Mary told me that the capacity to consent is not there because there are two words planted around it, 'unable' and 'unwilling'.
Consent is a word we may think we have an understanding of, given its commonplace and importance in the law. But when it comes to sex and relationships we need to clarify and talk far more openly about it, particularly in schools, to help combat the widespread sexual violence against women; a problem that is reaching alarming levels.