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Student sex survey: 8% of women have had non-consensual sexual contact in the last year

The study also focused on the role alcohol plays in young people’s sex lives.

Image: Shutterstock/l i g h t p o e t

NEARLY ONE IN twelve women are certain they have had sexual contact while unable to consent, a new study has found.

The report by the School of Psychology at NUI Galway investigated how many people had felt coerced into sexual activity.

It also studied how alcohol can influence someone’s desire to have sex, how many people regretted the sex they had and how young people communicate their consent to sex.

The survey of over 1,600 people was carried out by Elaine Byrnes and Pádraig MacNeela at NUIG.

Some of its findings included:

  • In the past 12 months, 8% of females and 3% of males were certain someone had sexual contact with them where they were unable to provide consent.
  • 27% of women and 35% of men agree with the statement “Guys don’t usually intend to force sex on a girl, but sometimes they get too sexually carried away”
  • 75% of females and 55.5% of males are extremely/very likely to confront a friend who plans to give someone alcohol to get sex
  • 35% of females and 58% of males agree they have sex with people with whom they wouldn’t sober
  • 73% of women and 77.5% of men agree/strongly agree they would ask a partner if he/she wanted to go back to their place to communicate consent to sex

Padraig MacNeela of the School of Psychology at NUI Galway said the survey incorporated standardised questionnaire tools that have been researched and validated internationally.

He added that in many cases this is the first time that some of these measures have been used outside the US, and the first time they have been reported on in an Irish context.

Researcher Elaine Byrnes added: “The results of this survey show the incidence of sexual violence and assault are comparable to international studies of college students, and highlight the need for a national study of third level students on this issue.

Findings on alcohol related sex consequences, particularly where students report being forced or pressured into sexual activity, highlights the importance of continuing consent education; how it is understood and communicated, and the role of alcohol in sexual decision making.

The report was welcomed by Niamh Murtagh, Vice President for Welfare at the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). She said: “This report demonstrates the necessity of such vital information, and will form the backbone of initiatives that will be rolled out in our third level institutions. In turn, this will enable the enrichment of student health, wellbeing and their welfare in college setting.”

You can read the full report here.

Read: Over 2,000 children waiting over a year for a psychology appointment in Ireland >

Read: Michael D Higgins Christmas message: ‘The burden of homelessness will overshadow the festive season’ >

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