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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
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say something

One in 12 female students are victims of rape or attempted rape

The USI is launching an awareness campaign after a survey documented the unwanted sexual experiences of college students in Ireland.

ONE IN TWELVE female students are the victims of rape, according to research by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

The survey also shows that 16% of students in Irish colleges have had an unwanted sexual experience in their current educational institution.

Of these, 38% of students reported that these unwanted sexual experiences occurred on more than one occasion and 36% noted that these incidents occurred either ‘several times’ or ‘many times’.

The USI surveyed 2,752 students for the research in 2013 – 2,590 Irish students and 162 international students.

Some 1,811 women completed the survey and 926 men. A further 15 students chose the ‘other’ option. Slightly more respondents said they attended universities (55.31%), than Institutes of Technology (43.39%).

Some 11% of the women who responded said they had been subjected to unwanted sexual contact. In addition, 5% of women recorded that they had been the victims of rape. A further 3% said they were the victims of attempted rape.

Fewer than 1% of the men surveyed reported that they had been the victims of rape or attempted rape.

Say Something 

In the next stage of the campaign, the USI is today launching the Say Something card in IT Tralee. The initiative was funded by Cosc and the Department of Justice and Equality.

say something2 USI USI

It’s designed to provide information for students should they find themselves in a situation where sexual violence or assault has occurred. Some 30,000 cards will be delivered to students’ unions across the country over the coming weeks.

“We hope this card will be an aid to students who find themselves in the position where they’re victims of violence and don’t know what to do next. We want to reverse the culture of victim blaming in Ireland and instead of blaming the victim, we want to help, support and empower them,” Kevin Donoghue, USI president, said.

Annie Hoey, USI deputy president, added that the organisation also trains students’ unions to “equip them on how to best support students”.

The cards will have all the information a student needs after they’ve been sexually or physically assaulted, and we hope to see an increase in the number of reported incidents. According to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre only one in ten rapes are reported.

“There are a lot of different reasons for this but we hope these cards will give students the information and support they need.”


The survey also found that the perpetrator was believed to have been under the influence of alcohol in over six in ten of the unwanted sexual experiences documented – for both men and women.

These incidents most frequently occurred in public buildings that were not part of the respondent’s college or university (36%), friends’ homes (23%) and their own homes (20%).

shutterstock_267441548 Shutterstock / wk1003mike Shutterstock / wk1003mike / wk1003mike

Some 5% of those who experienced unwanted sexual contact said they had been given drugs or alcohol against their will before the incident.

Only 3% of people who experienced these incidents said they reported them to gardaí. The most frequent responses listed for not reporting the incidents this were:

  • They did not believe the incident was serious enough to report (57%);
  • They did not think that what happened was a crime (44%);
  • They were ashamed or embarrassed (29%);
  • They thought they would be blamed for what happened (22%);
  • They did not want their parents or family to find out (21%).

Read: ‘They think you are a poof and they prey on you’

Read: There was a big drop in unemployment last month

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