A mural on sexual harassment exhibited in DCU

Cáit Caden

Image Credit: Alison Clair

A mural that promotes awareness of sexual harassment was erected on the DCU Glasnevin campus by DCU Students’ Union and the Union of Students Ireland (USI), last week.

The mural is an element of the ‘It Stops Now’ campaign for the Ending Sexual Harassment and Violence in Third-Level Education (ESHTE) project which is funded by the European Commission and lead by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NCWI).

“It’s echoing the ‘I believe her’ sentiment,” said NCWI spokesperson Tara Brown, project coordinator, about the mural and added that “the underlying message is ‘it stops now’.”

Over a third of female students experienced sexual harassment and coercion, according to research carried out by the NUI Galway SMART Consent team in 2018.

The study showed that sexual harassment experiences were not as high amongst male students, however many did state that they were victims of unwanted sexual attention.

The study included 632 students and 54 per cent of women in first year of college stated they faced sexual harassment. That figure rose to 64 per cent for women in second year and 70 per cent in third year. The figures for men in those years were 25 per cent, 37 per cent and 40 per cent.

“Boys will be held accountable for their actions” and “give us a smile” are two of the various messages that are part of the mural which was displayed on DCU’s Henry Grattan building and in other universities, including University College Cork.

However, the mural is no longer completely on display on the DCU campus. It is not currently known if the mural was physically torn down or was destroyed by weather conditions as it was held by adhesive alone on an outside building.

The mural went up on February 13th but only a few messages could still be seen just a day later.

“When it comes to the mural, not everyone has been the victim of sexual harassment. The whole point is that people are able to educate themselves on what is the issue,” said USI VP for Welfare Damien McLean.

The aim of the project is focused on the prevention of sexual harassment in third level colleges throughout Europe “through building a feminist understanding and analysis of the causes and effects of sexual harassment and violence.”

Brown believes this issue has been “challenged ” as a result of recent of events such as the Belfast Rugby trial and the rape case in Cork, where a victim’s underwear was used as evidence.

“All the data from (from the project) shows that the most likely people to experience sexual harassment are women and those women are aged between 18-25,” stated Brown.

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NCWI) partnered with the other bodies for the project which has been going since 2016. These included the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies (MIGS) in Cyprus, Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS), The Women’s Issues and The Women’s Equality Commissioner and the German Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich.

25 focus groups were used for these projects and the NCWI set up a national advisory committee of representatives for it also.

Cáit Caden

Image Credit: Alison Clair