A poster by Newcastle University society It Happens Here placed around campus to generate “awareness about the issue of consent” was vandalized after only one day of being put up.
In light of a recent rape trial in Northern Ireland where a teenage girl’s underwear was used as evidence against her, It Happens Here are asking for people to donate new pairs of clean underwear to make “bunting to put up all around the University campus”.
The project is a part of the #thisisnotconsent campaign which aims to “highlight the outdated attitude of victim blaming survivors of rape”.
Shortly after being put up in Park Terrace accommodation, someone had written on a number of the posters telling the society to “#stopblamingmen” and claiming that “there are only two genders”.
The poster stated that ‘on average three out of five students will be the victim of sexual assault or harassment during their time at university.'
"The vandal has only helped us reach more people and has created more interest around our campaign"
However the vandal claimed that ‘not all people claim to have been raped have been- some LIE” and that the poster provided ‘inflated statistics based on leading questions.’
An article by BBC News in 2018 states that over the past 20 years only 2-10% of rape accusations are proven false, according to a study completed in 2010.
It Happens Here posted a photograph of the vandalized poster on their Facebook page were met with over 180 likes and attention from BBC North East and Cumbria. Many commenters expressed disappointment and disgust at the vandalism.
However, Secretary of It Happens Here Charlotte Boulton believes that the incident may have helped the campaign overall:
“The #ThisIsNotConsent campaign team have been taken aback by the support we have received after the vandalized posters were put online. The vandal has only helped us reach more people, created more interest around our campaign, and highlight just how important sexual consent campaigns are to educate people."
"It Happens Here works tirelessly to support sexual violence survivors, and to raise awareness of crucial issues on campus and beyond, and we hope that this campaign will help people become more aware of the important work we do. We are always looking for interested people to join the society and would love to welcome any new members who want to help us with this campaign and future ideas"
“I urge all students on our campus to educate yourselves on consent"
The campaign is also being supported by NUSU’s Equality and Welfare Officer Jack Green who believes the vandalism is “a very disappointing sign that these kinds of attitudes still exist in our student body”.
However, the response on Facebook leads him to believe that “the vast majority” of Newcastle students do not hold the same views.
“The campaign has already received a lot of attention, and I hope that all students will learn from the campaign and feel empowered the next time that they spot sexual assault. The main message of the campaign will continue to be: only the rapist is responsible for rape.
“I urge all students on our campus to educate yourselves on consent, and the next time that you spot sexual assault, for example if somebody is groped in a club to call it out; and either directly intervene – if it is safe to do so, or let a member of staff know.”
For more information about the campaign visit It Happens Here’s Facebook page.