Thursday, 22 March 2012

Malta Today: Survey reveals 15 undergrads out of 116 respondents suffered sexual violence

Out of 116 respondents, seven reported cases of sexual assault, six reported attempted rapes and two reported rapes.

Wednesday 29 February 2012 - 17:40 by Miriam Dalli

A research study on dating and sexual violence conducted by the Gender Issues Committee (GIC) of the University of Malta among 116 students found that 15 of the respondents had suffered sexual violence at one stage of another of their life.

GIC secretary Amanda Mifsud said the study was aimed at exploring attitudes on dating behaviours among university students, to determine the frequency of dating behaviours and to investigate cases of sexual and dating violence.

Even though only 116 students out of the over 11,000 students attending University took part in the survey, a shocking 15 students - equivalent to 13% - reported positive to having suffered sexual violence.

One participant reported two incidents; three participants reported multiple episodes with the same perpetrator.

According to the study, there were two cases of rape, six cases of attempted rape and seven cases of sexual assault.

The majority of the victims, 12, were females; three were males, out of whom two were gay. The average age of the victims was 17.

The study also found that that the majority of perpetrators were males (15) and one female. The average age of the perpetrator was 37 years.

Asked how they knew the perpetrator, four victims said it had been a 'date', one said the perpetrator had been a 'stranger', another one said an 'acquaintance', three said a 'friend', one said a 'tutor', two said 'work colleagues', two said 'priests' and one the 'child of a family friend'.

"None of the perpetrators were university staff members," Mifsud said.

The majority of cases happened in a car (4), followed by a club or bar (3), a friend's home (2), the perpetrator's home (2), one at a private party, three outside (not specified), two at their workplace, one in a chapel and one at a dancing class.

Alcohol and drug use

One participant reported that she had been under the influence of alcohol during the incident. However, none of the participants reported that they had been under the influence of drugs during the incident.

On the other hand, one victim said the perpetrator had been under the influence of drugs. Four participants reported having been the victim of a perpetrator under the influence of alcohol.

Following the incidents, only one participant said she had made use of personal therapy, while six said they sought informal help from family and friends. Nine victims did not tell anyone about the incident.

None of the victims reported their case to the Police or any another service.

Dating behaviours

The study also found that over 33% of participants deemed it "acceptable" asking a date or a partner for a detailed account of how they spent the day and controlling the smoking, drinking and drug habits of their partner.

Also rated as acceptable were controlling the partner's spending patterns, controlling the partner's behaviour and spying on one's partner.

Around 25% of the respondents said this "depended" on the circumstances.

Over 25% of the participants admitted to controlling their partner's spending, insulted their partner, verbally abused their partner during an argument and blamed partner for something that was not his/her fault.

"Most participants reported that they were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when engaging in such behaviours," Mifsud reported.

The same rate of participants reported to have undergone the latter behaviours, also adding that their partner had not allowed them to wear certain types of clothes.

The survey was carried among 116 university students whose age ranged from 17 to 70 years. The average age was 22. 35 were males, 80 females and one not specified. 111 were Maltese, four foreign and one not specified. 91% were straight, 4% gay, 3% lesbian, 1% bisexual and 1% not specified.

The GIC has set up a mentoring scheme on campus where a mentor can help make a student's life on campus more efficient, effective and pleasant. The mentor would also be able to help direct students in their academic work.

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