We were delighted to host two ‘It Stops Now’ workshops at this year’s Femfest event held in Liberty Hall on the 25th November. Femfest is an annual event organised by the National Women’s Council of Ireland exploring particular issues young women face encouraging their engagement and opinions on areas such as women in leadership, women and health and women in sports to name a few. Through the ‘It Stops Now’ workshops, we explored how women students in Ireland feel when it comes to support and information on sexual violence and harassment in their schools and colleges.
Some of the young women attending had already been involved in establishing campaigns or workshops on the importance of consent so were able to contribute fantastic ideas and initiatives that previously worked well with students. Many felt that there was simply not enough being done to tackle the problem from an institutional level and the ‘myths’ around rape and sexual assault were still very prevalent among students. For example the perception that a woman’s choice of clothing or the amount of alcohol she consumed on a night out could be a contributing factor to her being raped is still very much a belief held by some students. The lack of infrastructure and coordination between third level institutes and statutory bodies like An Garda Siochana was also discussed as a point of concern. Young women from secondary level schools attending the workshop pointed out that the discussion around consent and sexual behaviour is not taking place early enough and that some schools, rather than focusing on the importance of consent and positive sexual attitudes, are hosting self-defence workshops to enable women to protect themselves from attack.
We valued everyone’s input at this workshop and our focus groups and meetings with young women students will continue to inform our ‘It Stops Now’ Campaign which will be rolled out in colleges and universities across Ireland next year so watch this space or contact our staff for more information.