More information regarding new guide for Higher Education Institutions to end Sexual Violence and Harassment

National Women’s Council (NWC) 

The National Women’s Council (NWC) is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. The NWC have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

NWC is funded by grants from Government, the largest coming from the Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, as well as a range of state agencies, including HSE and Pobal. Newly developed fundraising and membership strategies aim to grow our funding base as well as our membership, so that we will expand as a movement-building organisation and have increased resources available to achieve their ambitions. 

ESHTE – Ending Sexual Harassment and Violence in Third Level Education 

This project was established in 2016 and aimed to ‘prevent and combat SVH and build a culture of zero tolerance in universities and third-level Institutions throughout Europe through developing a feminist understanding and analysis of the causes and effects of SVH against women students’ (from aims of ESTHE Project) . This project, and its successful campaigns, laid the groundwork for the movements we have seen toward ending SVH in Higher Education in Ireland in the last five years.

The HEA ESVH Advisory Group played a crucial role in the development and analysis of comprehensive national surveys that explored experiences of staff and student experiences of sexual violence and harassment in Higher Education in 2021. The rich findings of the surveys have informed policy and funding decisions, including the development of the ‘Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Higher Education Institutions Implementation Plan, 2022-2024’ that is currently being implemented 

Surveys of staff and student’s experience of sexual violence and harassment in Irish higher education institutes 

 In August 2020, the Minister wrote to HEI Presidents indicating his intention that national surveys of student and staff experiences of sexual harassment and violence would be developed and implemented, to create a robust evidence base for further policy on these issues.

The surveys were conducted in April-May 2021, with the survey link being sent to some 245,000 students and some 30,000 staff members in higher education. A total of 11,417 responses were analysed (7,901 students and 3,516 staff) and inform the findings. The response rate to the staff survey was c.a. 11.7% and to the student survey c.a. 3.2%. The Minister launched the two survey reports on 27th January last.

National Survey of the Experiences of Students in relation to Sexual Violence and Harassment | Policy | Higher Education Authority (hea.ie)

Implementation plan to address issues regarding sexual violence and harassment in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). 

On 13th October 2022, Minister Harris launched a new implementation plan to address issues regarding sexual violence and harassment in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). 

The new Implementation Plan which covers the 2022 to 2024 period, builds upon and complements the wide range of initiatives currently in place to support a zero-tolerance approach to issues of sexual violence and harassment in our HEIs.

In launching the new implementation plan, details of an additional €1.5 million of supports secured in Budget 2023 were also announced to support the appointment of Sexual Violence and Harassment (SVH) Prevention and Response Managers in our HEIs. The 19 actions in the implementation plan will be delivered between 2022 and 2024.

The delivery of the actions in the new implementation plan are intended to build on and complement the broad range of initiatives ongoing across the sector towards the outcomes set out in the national policy framework published in 2019; ‘Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive: Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions’, (often referred to as the ‘Framework for Consent’), and accompanying institutional action plans.

gov.ie – New higher education sexual violence and harassment implementation plan and additional funding announced by Minister Harris (www.gov.ie) 

CSO survey providing national prevalence figures on sexual violence in Ireland. 

On 19th April 2023, Minister Harris welcomed the publication of a new CSO survey providing national prevalence figures on sexual violence in Ireland.

The Sexual Violence Survey 2022, commissioned and funded by the Department of Justice, focused on respondents’ experiences of a broad spectrum of sexual violence and harassment experienced in their lifetime.

The objective of the survey is to provide high quality national prevalence data on sexual violence which will act as a new baseline for the levels of sexual violence in Ireland. The survey is due to be conducted again in 10 years’ time. The survey covers a range of sexually violent behaviour, from non-contact experiences to non-consensual sexual intercourse.

Among the headline findings are: 

  • 40% of respondents had experienced sexual violence in their lifetime
  • women respondents were more likely to have experience sexual violence than men. For women, 52% reported having experienced sexual violence at some stage in their lifetime compared to 28% for men
  • of those who were victims of sexual violence, 21% of women had non-consensual sexual intercourse, 23% were victims of attempted sexual intercourse, 43% were victims of sexual touching
  • 30% reported other sexual contact and 25% were victims of non-sexual contact. The respective figures for men were 5%, 7%, 17%, 10% and 16%
  • younger people reported higher levels of sexual violence
  • 80% of those who experienced sexual violence knew the perpetrator
  • women were more likely to disclose than men

The main results of the Sexual Violence Survey 2022 are available on the CSO website.

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