London Students Leave Underwear Around University Campus To Protest Sexual Violence

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Underwear featuring quotes from rape survivors has been hung by London students around their campus to demand more support for people who are sexually assaulted at university.

The Feminist Society at Roehampton University want a dedicated member of staff employed to tackle rape and harassment on campus and services that are already available to be better publicised.

Its head Zoë Cartlidge, told the Independent she organised the protest because she was assaulted early on in her first year and did not know where to turn.

Without support from a clearly identified, trained member of staff, the 21-year-old said she felt alone and was afraid she would not be believed if she told people she had been sexually assaulted by an older student who already had many friends on campus.

When she raised the incident in a FemSoc meeting more than two years later, she realised the extent of the problem and felt it was necessary to do something to highlight the issue.

A 2015 survey by The Telegraph found that nationwide one in three female students said they had been assaulted on campus.

The group decided to put underwear decorated with slogans around campus because they wanted to create “something lasting”, Ms Cartlidge said.

Campaigners intend to hold a second “lie in” protest at their student union next week.

Ms Cartlidge said the response from other students to the initial action, which took place earlier this week, had been overwhelming and very positive.

Student Union President Jack De France said it was supportive of the campaign, but wanted to emphasise that staff were trained to deal with incidents of rape.

“The Student Welfare Officers are fully trained and capable of providing wellbeing support to victims/survivors of sexual assault (and they do deal with such cases),” he wrote in post on the society’s Facebook page.

“The Head of Wellbeing at the university’s PhD is titled ‘Investigating Post-Assault Services for Sexual Violence in England’ which informs national policy and current institutions on how to improve services, and she is trained in Sexual Assault and Violence Response/Advocacy (a three month training held by a Rape Crisis Centre).”

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