The government has ordered an inquiry to look into ways of reducing violence against women at universities due to concerns that ‘lad culture’ is posing an increasing risk to female students.
In a letter to university chiefs, the Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, ordered them to create a taskforce to investigate the issue and create a code of practice that will bring about ‘cultural change’.
According to ITV News, research carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS) last year revealed that a quarter of students said they had been groped or subjected to inappropriate touching, whilst two-thirds of students questioned said that they had seen other students have to deal with unwanted sexual comments.
Mr Javid told ITV that he would expect his daughter to be just as safe as his son on any university campus in the UK. He added that the government does not tolerate sexism or harassment in any part of society, and he was ‘not prepared to let it take place on university campuses unchecked’.
The decision to launch an inquest has been welcomed by Student’s Unions, some of whom have described sexist behaviour as a ‘pandemic’. Charlotte Chorley, Women’s Officer at Cambridge University Student’s Union, said:
It’s fantastic that this is finally being recognised as a pandemic. In light of recent developments on American campuses, we can see that this is not just a national issue, but a global one. Lad culture and rape culture are insidious, and ubiquitous, and tackling them is essential to protect the health, wellbeing and success of women students.
A spokesperson for the NUS added victims of sexism at universities often have to go through a ‘huge ordeal’ to file complaints, and that many universities have been reluctant to acknowledge it as an issue.