LBT women students at greater risk of sexual violence

Hidden Marks August 4th, 2011 by Ruth.Pearce

New figures released by the National Union of Students indicate that over one third of women students who identify as lesbian, bisexual and/or trans (LBT) are the victims of a sexual assault.

Postgraduate researcher Tami Peterson conducted the new analysis using figures from a 2010 questionnaire distributed by the NUS Women’s Campaign. The “Hidden Marks” survey involved 2,058 women students, 18% of whom described themselves as lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, or otherwise non-straight/non-cis.

“Hidden Marks” demonstrated the endemic nature of gendered violence and harassment on campuses. Peterson’s research shows that the situation is particularly bad for LBT women.

35.7% of LBT respondents had experienced sexual violence, compared to 22% of non-LBT respondents. In 6.3% of LBT cases this violence involved sexual intercourse, and in a further 3.6% of cases it involved attempted intercourse.

There is also a greater probability of LBT women students being harassed. LBT respondents were five times more likely to report verbal harassment relating to their sexuality in a classroom, lecture theatre or library and six times more likely to report being harassed in this way in a Students’ Union building or during a Student Union event.

“It’s not surprising but is very saddening to find that LBT women students are more likely to experience harassment, violence and sexual assault,” NUS LGBT Officer Vicki Baars told Lesbilicious. “Sexism and homophobia are deeply rooted in our society and share many of the same attributes because they share many of the same root causes”.

“It’s vital that our campuses are places that LBT women can feel free to study away from the fear of these experiences,” she added. “Whilst we work to eradicate these events [...] it’s crucial that services that offer support, advice and guidance in our places of study are well equipped and fully trained”.

Support and advice relating to sexual harassment and assault can be found on the Hidden Marks website.


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