The study, financed by the Diversity and Inclusivity Office, was implemented by a group of Maastricht researchers. Their results are in line with a survey into sexual violence among Dutch students presented by Amnesty International last summer. It showed that 11 per cent of the female and 1 per cent of the male students had been victims of rape. Among the respondents in Maastricht, the percentages were 12.6 and 2.7 per cent, respectively. In both surveys, this included all cases where there was penetration without consent. This does not always need to coincide with physical suppression.
Unlike the Amnesty report, the Maastricht survey also looked into other forms of sexual violence – such as non-consensual kissing or touching – and sexual harassment. In the latter case, there is no actual physical contact, but there is undesirable behaviour, such as inappropriate sexual remarks or the constant request for sex despite a refusal. More than one quarter of the students experienced sexual violence at least once since they started studying at the UM; almost 40 per cent experienced harassment. The researchers did not see major differences between the faculties.
Although more than half of the victims know the perpetrator from the UM, most of the misconduct took place outside university buildings: particularly in student rooms and in clubs, bars and restaurants. In almost nine in ten cases, the offender was a man. The survey also shows that women, students with a disability and LGBQ students were more often victims of misconduct. Members of associations also experienced this more often than non-members.
Almost three quarters of the victims of sexual violence reported negative consequences, such as concentration problems and helplessness. But only a fraction of the victims (5.6 per cent for sexual violence and 10.2 per cent for harassment) reported the incident to the UM, for example via a student advisor, confidential advisor or psychologist.
President Rianne Letschert calls the results worrying, but is not surprised by them. “We have seen figures like these in surveys elsewhere. From these surveys we also know that victims often don’t report, while there were sufficient signs that these problems also occur at the UM. It is therefore good that we now have clear figures. This enables us to continue the discussion on this subject.”
The results of the survey, which already took place in June of last year, were presented today during a conference at the UM. There, Letschert also signed a manifesto against sexual violence drawn up by Amnesty. It states that the university must work towards prevention, among others by offering courses for students. It must also become easier for victims to report misconduct and to receive help.