One in three students in the UK thinks that a woman is responsible for being raped if she’s drunk.

A woman is totally or partially responsible for being raped if she’s drunk – that’s the shocking view of over a third of students.

And nearly half of them would say she’s in some way responsible if she’d failed to say ‘no’ clearly to the man.

London Student survey carried out by Opinionpanel Research has revealed the attitudes of the UK’s student population to rape. Participants were given six scenarios and asked whether a woman would be totally responsible, partially responsible or not at all responsible for being raped in each.

If a woman was raped when drunk, 31 per cent of students think she’d be partly responsible and a further three per cent that she’d be totally responsible.

Flirting was seen as making a woman partially responsible by twenty-seven per cent of students, with two per cent branding her totally responsible in that situation.

A whopping 44 per cent of students would say the woman was responsible if she’d failed to say ‘no’ clearly to the man, and another four per cent that she was totally responsible.

And if she is alone and walking in a dangerous or deserted area, five per cent of students say she’d be totally responsible for being raped and 26 per cent would hold her partially responsible.

The number of students blaming a woman for being raped were lower given the scenarios that she was wearing sexy or revealing clothes or that she’d had many sexual partners, with 17 per cent saying she’d be partially responsible and two totally responsible in the first instance, and 11 and two per cent in the second.

Male students were on average more likely to consider a woman in some way responsible for being raped than their female colleagues, with the most notable difference of opinion being if a woman was wearing ‘sexy or revealing clothes’. Twenty-six per cent of male students said she’d be totally or partially responsible for being raped in that instance, compared to 14 per cent of female students.

The survey also showed a lack of awareness of rape figures – 50 per cent of students did not know how many women are raped in the UK on average in a year, and 15 per cent thought the figure was under 500.

The figure was even higher for students from London universities, with 19 per cent putting the figure at under 500.

The actual figure – according to the Fawcett Society, who campaign for equality between men and women – is over 47,000. The Home Office recorded 11,648 incidents of ‘rape of a female’ in 2007//08.

When asked ‘what percentage of alleged rapes reported to the police in the UK do you think result in a criminal conviction?’ 24 per cent of students did not know, and just 14 per cent said it was between six and 10 per cent. The national figure is 6.1 per cent. 

Heather Harvey, Amnesty International UK’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign Manager said: “Amnesty is horrified by the findings of the London Student’s survey of student attitudes to rape.

“A survey we commissioned three years ago showed similar results for people across the UK as a whole. Since then there has been a government publicity campaign aimed at younger men, and police and court commitments to better train those who work with victims.

“But these new findings still show that even among younger people the view that women ‘ask for it’ is stubbornly held. Such attitudes stop victims reporting in the first place and lead to a low conviction rate when juries hear cases. They also create a climate of impunity where men know they can get away with rape as people blame women instead of blaming the rapist.

“It has been consistently pointed out by campaigners like members of the End Violence Against Women campaign that the government has failed to develop a programme of prevention around violence against women – they can do seatbelts, smoking, obesity, binge-drinking so why can’t they start to tackle attitudes like these which ignore violence against women or worse still blame women for it?”

Fieldwork for this research was conducted by Opinionpanel Ltd between 11th and 12th of February 2009. The sample consisted of 1,046 interviews with students at 119 Higher Education (HE) institutions representative of the UK HE population in terms of gender, year group and university type.

University of London reaction:

Emmanuel Akpan-Inwang, LSE Students Union’s Education & Welfare Officer said: “I find the results of this survey extremely disturbing.

“I am shocked and appalled that so many students will lay the blame for such a horrendous act at the feet of a woman. The concept that women ask for it to happen and that men somehow cannot help themselves is an atrocious gross misrepresentation of the facts.

“Government policy has continuously failed victims of rape and sexual assault and they now need to address the scale of public ignorance as well as appallingly low conviction rates.”

Kate Rowley, UCL Union Welfare Officer told London Student: “I’m shocked, but sadly not surprised, by those statistics. There is a huge amount of misunderstanding about the nature of rape, particularly date rape. If you have sex with someone who has refused consent, even if they were in your bed willingly, it is rape.

“It is essential to raise awareness of the law because we live in an age where rape is all too common, but an understanding of the issues is so low that some victims don’t understand that they have experienced serious assault and blame themselves. I hope studies like yours go some way to combating ignorance and prejudice.”

Jesse Fajemisin, Goldsmiths Union Welfare and Education Officer said: “I personally believe that a woman is never responsible for her rape, and that it is completely insensitive and misguided to start mixing the issue of ‘blame’ with women’s responsibility. 

“Whilst I believe we should all take personal responsibility in relation to matters such as safe drinking, this should not translate into attributing blame to a woman if she is raped.  This takes the focus of the male’s actions, and coincides with society’s patriarchal, and sexist mentality that constantly sexualises women.” 

Do you think that a woman is totally responsible, partially responsible or not at all responsible for being raped if:

The woman is drunk.

All students

Totally: 3%

Partially: 31%

Not at all: 65%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Male students

Totally: 4%

Partially: 35%

Not at all: 59%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Female students

Totally: 2%

Partially: 27%

Not at all: 69%

Didn’t answer: 2%

The woman has behaved in a flirtatious manner.

All students

Totally: 2%

Partially: 27%

Not at all: 69%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Male students

Totally: 4%

Partially: 31%

Not at all: 62%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Female students

Totally: 1%

Partially: 23%

Not at all: 74%

Didn’t answer: 2%

The woman has failed to say ‘no’ clearly to the man.

All students

Totally: 4%

Partially: 44%

Not at all: 49%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Male students

Totally: 6%

Partially: 45%

Not at all: 46%

Didn’t answer: 3%

Female students

Totally: 3%

Partially: 44%

Not at all: 51%

Didn’t answer: 2%

A woman is wearing sexy or revealing clothes.

All students

Totally: 2%

Partially: 17%

Not at all: 79%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Male students

Totally: 3%

Partially: 23%

Not at all: 72%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Female students

Totally: 1%

Partially: 13%

Not at all: 84%

Didn’t answer: 2%

It is known that the woman has had many sexual partners.

All students

Totally: 2%

Partially: 11%

Not at all: 84%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Male students

Totally: 4%

Partially: 14%

Not at all: 79%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Female students

Totally: 1%

Partially: 9%

Not at all: 88%

Didn’t answer: 2%

The woman is alone and walking in a dangerous or deserted area.

All students

Totally: 5%

Partially: 26%

Not at all: 67%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Male students

Totally: 6%

Partially: 23%

Not at all: 69%

Didn’t answer: 2%

Female students

Totally: 3%

Partially: 28%

Not at all: 66%

Didn’t answer: 2%


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