Students confront rape culture at University of Western Australia

A statue in the Swan River close to the campus bared a feminist message.

Feminists caused a stir at the University of Western Australia (UWA) when posters and stickers appeared around the campus on May 31. Declaring “rape jokes are hate speech”, the posters and stickers were hard to miss. A sign with the same message appeared on a statue in the Swan River close to the campus.

The same day, the main social club on campus was to hold a party to “celebrate and commemorate the contemporary culture of our fair university/city (As seen on PerthNow)”.

The reference was to PerthNow reporting on sexual harassment and assault at a campus orientation camp early this year.

The Facebook event page urged people to “Come as a journalist, a feminist, a uni hooligan or anything else that springs to mind when you think of Perth, Now!” — prompting postings like “I'll cum as a rapist” and “the only way to cum” along with other comments joking about the issue.

An activist with the UWA-based Feminist Action Network (FAN) spoke at a May 30 Socialist Alliance forum on women’s rights. She gave a first-hand account of the experiences of women at UWA orientation camps, and the coercion into drinking excessively and taking part in humiliating sexual “games”.

She described invasive activities like male leaders entering the bathrooms and looking at women while they were showering and pouring wine over them. There was an atmosphere in which women feared they would be forced into having sex against their will.

She said the student guild leadership and responsible club refused to take a stand against such behaviour.

In a positive sign, on May 30 the student guild passed FAN’s motion to establish a working party to deal with the issues of safety on campus and at campus parties.



Comments

I hope the guys that invaded the girls showers get charged with indecent assault.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in GLW the plight of the two women in Sweden is whitewashed away....

I don;t think GLW is whitewashing anyone's plight. f there is a case to answer, it needs to be answered. So far, Assange has not been charged with anything. He was willing to be questioned in Sweden and he is willing to be questioned in Britain, which is normal procedure. The extradition push to Sweden is unprecedented for someone not charged with any crime, and it is quite clearly not about the allegations of sexual assault.

If that is what it is about, Assange would be questioned by Swedish police in Britain by now and it may be established how much of a case there is to answer and whether or not charges are warranted.

The *real* disrespect to the serious issue of sexual assault and rape is coming from those using the allegations as a cover for something else. They are deliberately binding the serious issue of sexual assault up with attempts by the powerful to attack a thorn in their side, and using it as a cover to get Assange to the US on charges with nothing to do with the allegations. If that happens, and it is likely to, it is almost certain there will be no questioning of Assange over sexual assault -- something he has was always willing to submit himself too anyway, and no establishing of whether there is grounds for charges.

If Assange is guilt of rape, something he is yet to be charged with, he should obviously face justice for that. Anyone responsible for such a crime should. But that is not what is at stake over the extradition.

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