The Nottingham University Conservative Association (NUCA) has attracted controversy due to a motion about sexual assault, debated on Friday during their ‘Port and Policy’ event at Lincoln Hall Library.
The motion entitled, ‘This house believes that women who dress provocatively are more likely to become victims of sexual assault’ was defeated by the assembled members of NUCA and other guests. However, the event was criticised severely by the Women’s Network after an image of NUCA’s poster (see above) was published on their Facebook group.
One WN member said “Can’t the University do something? I’m pretty sure this is not acceptable even as a debate.”
Thomas Barlow, Chair of NUCA, told Impact that the motion was the most popular vote of the options offered to members. Barlow said: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with debating issues. We tend to try to put questions to people that are topical.” He added that the Women’s Network were invited to the event but did not attend.
Rose Bonner, Women’s Officer, told Impact: “Research carried out by NUS in 2010 found that 1 in 7 survey respondents have experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student. Of those who did not report serious sexual assault to the police, 50% said it was because they felt ashamed or embarrassed, and 43% because they thought they would be blamed for what happened.”
Bonner added: “In a poll done by Amnesty International nearly 50% of respondents believed that a woman is partially or totally responsible for being raped if she has behaved in a flirtatious manner. There is a clear perception in society that survivors of sexual assault are to be blamed for what happened to them and this perpetuates a victim blaming culture. The cause of sexual assault lies with the perpetrator, never the victim. In most cases of sexual assault the perpetrator is known by the victim.
“Furthermore, 40% of adults who are raped tell no one about it. 31% of children who are abused reach adulthood without having disclosed their abuse. This means that victims don’t get the support they need to deal with the abuse or violence they have experienced.
“There is a clear need for the Union and University to provide support for survivors of sexual assault and to encourage a supportive and blame free culture,” Bonner concluded.