The Newcastle University student society, It Happens Here launched the knickers bunting campaign last January 2019.
The appeal aims to raise awareness of sexual assault and consent. It also aims to change the perception of victim blaming survivors of rape. The campaign is a part of the #ThisIsNotConsent Twitter campaign. #ThisIsNotConsent was generated from a rape trial in November 2018 in Cork, Ireland whereby a teenager’s choice of underwear was considered as an evidence by the prosecution for the victim being sexually assaulted.
According to Charlotte Boulton, the Secretary of It Happens Here: “There are horrific ideas in society that assumes that a woman wearing a thong, for example, implies promiscuity and creates a shame culture for young women and suggests they are somehow consenting to any sex simply due to their underwear preference. We want to raise awareness of the importance of consent and how this is not related to underwear chosen by any gender.”
Madeline Baugh, a society member of It Happens Here has taken the lead on creating the underwear buntings which will be hung around the campus this 4th February. Clean or new underwear can be dropped in donations boxes located at the Park Terrace Laundry Room, the Students’ Union Reception, Newcastle Law School’s common room, the University Sports centre and other buildings in the university.
The campaign has recently received national and local press coverage due to their informational posters being vandalised just after a day of them being put up. It Happens Here has debunked these accusations on their official Facebook page, and has gathered support from Jack Green, the Welfare and Equality Officer of Newcastle University Student Union.
Boulton considers the incident to have helped with the campaign: “The vandalism has actually given us far more interest than we would likely have ever received, and it shows that there are so many people who support our cause.”
“It’s been amazing to see so much support from places like BBC North East & Cumbria and in the local press, like The Courier and The Tab.”
It Happens Here is devoted to raising awareness about sexual violence and works with representatives of Newcastle University and the local community to ensure that the city is safer. A recent crime report from The Complete University Guide found that out of 1000 people residing in Newcastle between September 2017 – August 2018, 46.6 reported sexual violence incidents.