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University Presidents need to step up to challenge and introduce mandatory consent classes – Carroll MacNeill

27th January 2022 - Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, TD

Mandatory consent classes in all third level institutions must be introduced in light of the findings of the Report on Student and Staff Experiences of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment published by Minister Simon Harris, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Equality, said, “While the high level of responses to the survey first launched in April 2021 is very welcome, it’s extremely concerning that the majority of students who submitted a response felt they had experienced sexist hostility.

“The report makes for stark and difficult reading at times, but for many the findings won’t come as a surprise. 14% of respondents said someone had oral sex with them while they were incapacitated and unable to give consent. 34.2% of female student respondents reported experiencing non-consensual vaginal penetration either by coercion, incapacitation, force or threat of force.

“Our colleges and universities should be safe spaces for people to learn and develop without fear of intimidation, hostility or violence. The stark reality is that at the moment, many young people, in particular young women, feel threatened and vulnerable on a daily basis.

“It is time our University Presidents prioritise this issue and resource it accordingly.

“In light of the findings, it is high time for mandatory sexual consent classes to be rolled out across our colleges and universities.

“Minister Harris has led on the issue of tackling sexual and gender-based violence in third level institutions since taking up his brief. I am now working with the Minister and his Department to engage with Higher Education authorities to ensure mandatory consent classes are introduced in line with the recommendation to develop a programme of awareness raising, education and training.

“We must get to the root of the problem, of what causes people to carry out heinous acts of rape, sexual harassment, abuse, coercive control and more.

“As I have said time and time again, if we are to turn the tide once and for all against the wave of gender-based violence, discrimination, and sexual harassment in Ireland, we need to urgently rethink the education of our young people,” concluded Deputy Carroll MacNeill.

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