A shocking Human Rights report has revealed that more than half of Australian university students have been sexually harassed and seven per cent have been sexually assaulted at least once.
The study was conducted across 39 institutions and involved more than 30,000 students.
Unsurprisingly, women were assaulted and harassed at far higher rates than men, while men were overwhelmingly the perpetrators.
"A significant proportion of students who were sexually assaulted or sexually harassed knew the perpetrator, who was most likely to be a fellow student from their university," the report said.
"It is clear from the survey that women experience sexual assault and sexual harassment at disproportionately higher rates than men: they were almost twice as likely to be harassed in 2016 and more than three times as likely to be sexually assaulted in 2015 or 2016," the report said.
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Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said the report proved sexual assault and harassment are happening at unacceptable rates at Australian universities.
“Almost a third of sexual harassment reported in the survey occurred on university grounds or in teaching spaces, while one in five of those who were sexually assaulted said that this occurred at a university or residence social event,” said Commissioner Jenkins.
“We found that colleges are a particular area of concern, particularly for women who were four times as likely as men to have been sexually assaulted in this setting.”
The report also found that minorities were being sexually assaulted or harassed at a high rate, especially lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse students.
Perhaps even more distressing than the high rates of sexual assault and harassment is how little knew, or were willing, to report it.
94 per cent of those harassed and 87 per cent of those assaulted at university didn’t make a formal complaint or report, and six in 10 students didn’t even know how.
Residential colleges raised particular concerns, proving to be one of the highest risk places on campus for sexual assault and harassment, according to the report.
The survey found hazing practices were often focused on excessive alcohol consumption and humiliating or degrading acts, “and, in many cases, sexual harassment and sexual assault.”
“The aim is to get the freshers as drunk as possible. Maybe a secondary aim is to make them look as ridiculous and embarrassing as possible, giving them costumes, props, and even sometimes smearing food all over them,” one submission claimed.
Other submissions highlighted the long history of focussing on residents’ sexual activities.
“Conquests of guys getting girls from other colleges were broadcasted weekly in this gossip session the whole college had, where you would submit your experiences to an executive, and on weeknights we would gather and hear about everyone’s conquests that week...women were described as objects or trophies.”