USI campaign to stop gender based violence across Ireland

Niamh Quinlan

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) are launching a campaign to take a stand against gender-based sexual violence in universities around Ireland.

The USI will be working with the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) and Students’ Union in various educational institutions across the country in their “It Stops Now” campaign.

Gender based violence is “any violence or harassment that is directed at someone based on their gender,” said Hayley Mulligan, the Violence Against Women Officer at the NWCI.

The campaign will not be focusing on one particular gender however. Although women suffer disproportionately from sexual violence, Mulligan said that rape is a crime of power and is suffered by those across the board of genders.

The fact that disabled women are three times more likely to be subject to sexual and physical violence will also be addressed. The NCWI and Students Unions across the country will be working with other groups to “to develop interventions that address that one particular risk factor.”

The USI said that these events play an important role in “reminding us all of our shared responsibilities in creating a culture of zero tolerance to sexual violence and harassment, both on and off campus.”

The aim of the campaign is to call on students to end all aspects that are apart of sexual violence in some way, including victim shaming, cat calling and sexist jokes.

Other cultural change initiatives being implemented include UCD’s bystander training to incoming first years. The 90-minute training programme will teach bystanders how to react and help if they see someone at risk of sexual harassment or assault before them.

Mulligan said that “empowering students to lead change is essential, because the values they take from their college experience will shape a better, more equal society for everyone.”

Regarding the tearing down of the display of underwear hanging in the DCU Student Centre highlighting consent awareness, Mulligan said that it was a hugely concerning factor that people disrespecting those speaking out against sexual violence. “Whether it’s through malicious intent or not, it definitely highlights something that can be across the board of victim-blaming, and shaming and silencing of people who have experienced these behaviours,” she said.

The display was also apart of the It Stops Now project.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: It Stops Now