Toolkit for tackling sexual violence in universities and colleges launched

Written by Tom Freeman on 25 April 2018 in News

Guide on tackling sexual violence and harassment issued to Scottish universities and colleges

Domestic violence - European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari

A new toolkit has been published to help universities and colleges tackle gender-based harassment and violence.

The resource has been developed by Strathclyde University and will be rolled out with £396,000 of Scottish Government funding.

It includes guidance and training for staff to identify and support victims and survivors and having clearer code of practices and sanctions for perpetrators.

The ‘Equally Safe in Higher Education’ toolkit is based on the #EmilyTest, a campaign set up by Fiona Drouet, in memory of her daughter Emily who took her life after an abusive relationship with a fellow student at Aberdeen University.

The campaign revealed private text messages Emily had sent describing her relationship.

“It’s my fault”, “I made him so angry” and “I deserve it”, she had said.

Drouet described the launch of the new toolkit as “an important day for all Scottish students”.

She said: “This is Emily’s legacy and I hope both staff and students will feel empowered by this resource. Institutions now have the help they need to pass the #emilytest and I believe that had this been in place while our daughter was at university it could have saved her life.”

Dr Veena O’Halloran, the University of Strathclyde’s Secretary and Compliance Officer, said: “Universities are well-placed to take a leading role in tackling gender-based violence wherever it may occur, through research, teaching and knowledge exchange. As a socially-progressive University, Strathclyde aims to be at the forefront of this work.

“We are delighted that the Equally Safe in Higher Education toolkit is being made available to universities across the country. We are determined that Scotland has an environment where every student has equal access to help and support, and where university communities – staff, students and alumni -  tackle gender-based violence head-on.”

Universities minister Shirley Anne Somerville said she had issued a letter of guidance to all universities and colleges outlining their duty to adopt the policies and procedures in the document.

“I know universities and colleges are up for the challenge and I am keen to see this commitment translate into real, demonstrable action and change for women living, working and researching on campus,” she said.

Shona Struthers, Chief Executive of Colleges Scotland, said: “There is a strong commitment from all organisations involved to work together to create the safest possible environment for students and staff, free from sexual harassment and abuse.”

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