Shocking: one in 20 university students is raped in France


A French study, published this week, sheds light on gender-based and sexual violence committed in the country’s academic world. It reveals that one in 20 female university students has been the victim of rape – a phenomenon that students interviewed attribute mainly to the group mentality and the pressure to “fit in”.

The study was carried out by the Observatory studying sexual and gender-based violence in higher education (Observatory studying sexual and gender-based violence in higher education). Of the 9,624 responses received, 76% came from people identifying themselves as “women” and 24% from people identifying themselves as “men”.

The data from the study is sobering: one in 20 female students reported being a victim of rape, while one in 10 female students had been sexually assaulted.

These acts of violence most often occur off campus, during weekend events or student parties. When asked what could be the main causes of sexual violence observed in their institution, respondents cited the mentality group and the pressure to integrate (20%), the impunity of the perpetrators of such acts (18%), alcohol (18%) and the lack of education of the students (18%).

Chantal Michard, a psychologist based in Paris and specializing in working with victims of sexual violence, helps interpret the results.

Do you think that the “group mentality” to which the respondents refer may explain the scale and frequency of gender-based and sexual violence highlighted by the report?

I don’t really like that expression because I find saying it like that is favorable to attackers, as if it gives them a pretext, a mitigating circumstance.

On the other hand, the group mentality certainly has an impact on acts of gender-based violence: the more we enter “traditional sectors”, the more we see that gender stereotypes are present.

The group mentality will encourage this. Preventive action must therefore be taken very early.

Is the scale of these acts of violence therefore more likely to stem from the “impunity” also highlighted in the study?

In my opinion, it is permissiveness at the institutional level that poses the most problems. As soon as you organize student parties with the word “bitch” in their name, and the school or university administration does not intervene to put an end to it, it goes hand in hand with what the victims might think it’s ‘normal’ to be treated this way if you want to ‘fit in’.

In this environment, we tend to view sexist language as mere jokes, when we are already dealing with emotional abuse, and this can pave the way for other more serious acts of violence, because as long as no border is not established, there are no limits. Not to mention the fact that the “first person” to speak may soon be left out, becoming the “scapegoat” for the class.

I am not saying that these acts of violence would no longer occur, but I do believe that the establishment of borders could, in any case, help to reduce them.

And what about alcohol?

Many rapes are committed under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I see this among patients in my practice: I see a lot of people – men and women – who wonder if they were drugged at the time of their sexual assault or rape.

There are extremely sexist and violent attitudes in the student world. For example, inviting girls to a party far too early to get them to drink as much as possible before bringing in the boys who have not drunk anything. This stuff is well known, but we only started talking about it recently.

The problem also lies in the treatment of victims of sexual assault or rape in this context. I recently heard about the case of a complaint being denied because the victim was drunk at the time of the events. They were made to understand that they were partly responsible because they were drunk.

But the sexual assault or rape of a person who is unable to give consent is considered an aggravating factor in the eyes of the law. It is therefore high time to send the message that a drunk girl is not an “open bar” – AFP Relaxnews


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