Student rape: no need for the government to take action, says minister

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"There's already enough being done", the minister writes in a written reply (in Dutch) to questions posed by the House of Representatives. As an example, she mentions the ombudsmen to whom students can turn.

A recent survey by human rights organisation Amnesty International revealed just how widespread the problem is in the Netherlands: around one in ten female students are raped in their student years. Among male students, the figure is one in a hundred. What's more, according to the report, many students do not know where to turn for help.

At the time of the report's release, the minister said she was “horrified” by the findings. But that did not result in any immediate political action.

She has, however, asked the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) to give advice on how to tackle inappropriate behaviour in the academic world. The advisory report is expected to be unveiled by the end of the year.

The Dutch Student Union (LSVb, Dutch acronym) is disappointed at the minister’s stance. “You'd suppose that the minister would not only be horrified, but also take action”, protests chair Ama Boahene.

So what can the minister do? The LSVb refers to Amnesty's manifesto containing recommendations on this topic. Among other ideas, the organisation suggests workshops for students and employees, campaigns against damaging myths surrounding rape, and better information about the ‘facilities to obtain assistance and report’ abuse.

Amnesty is once again calling attention to the issue of sexual violence in the higher education sector. As part of a campaign entitled Let’s Talk About YES, student volunteers are asking their schools to introduce better preventive and support measures.

The Amnesty manifesto has so far been signed by only one institution in the Netherlands: VU Amsterdam became the first signatory in August.