If you’re brave enough to google ‘Sexual Assault in Nottingham’, you will find a myriad of police reports and articles upon articles showing the rise of these incidents…
Taking a step back from the overwhelming statistics, I asked students in Nottingham a simple question; What is sexual assault? A shocking 80% of the people I spoke to didn’t know what sexual assault was. Sexual assault can be from a catcall to being groped all the way through to rape. When specifically asking each person if they believed having their arse grabbed was sexual assault, 90% said no. To many readers these statistics will not be shocking as being groped and verbally assaulted has sadly become a part of a club night out for students.
Society today is going through a time of transition. We have become more sexually liberated, speaking openly about contraceptives and STIs, but sexual assault is still a taboo subject as these so-called “grey areas” exist. Areas that people Like President Donald Trump like to exploit by publicly making comments such as: “you have to treat em like shit,” in an interview he gave to New York Magazine. With bigots like this leading the free world, these attitudes are arguably bound to trickle down into the daily lives of young adults across the world.
NTSU Feminist Society member Molly, said that on a club night out she wouldn’t report a sexual assault until she felt threatened by the assailant, claiming: “I would be reluctant to do so as I might not be taken seriously.” This fear of being ridiculed leads to the offender not being held accountable for their actions. The Crime Survey for England and Wales reported that in 2017, 83% of sexual assault victims did not file a report with the police.
Childhood and Youth Studies student Shay vividly recounted a sexual assault in Propaganda. He recalled “an older man approached [him] with cheesy chat up lines” and after numerous advances, this elevated to the man grabbing his groin and squeezing, saying “interested yet?”. Shay went to security and was shocked when they replied: “You’re, gay right? Isn’t that what you’ve come for?”. This response to a sexual assault highlights how although statistically victims of sexual assault are more likely to be female, men still experience it and are more likely to stay quite due to the outdated culture of masculinity.
Looking at the club scene from the other side of the bar offered another perspective on sexual assaults in clubs. After speaking to multiple bar associates working in clubs across the city, very few people had received training or advice from their manager on how to identify a man or woman in danger and what they should do if they do see anything. This training is given in Bodega and Wetherspoons in the form of E-Learning, but this should be something that every single club or pub worker must complete.
It seems that the consensus amongst club workers is simply that if any violence is seen then tell a bouncer. However, since many of us have had undeniably had a bad experience with a bouncer, it’s hard to feel safe with them being our only barrier from violence. Bar associate Tia claimed that the level of security and safety of the customers depends on the door staff on shift, saying that some bouncers will choose to overlook certain things whereas other bouncers will act. A person’s safety on a night out should not derive from this gamble.
Former NTSU Student voice coordinator Kelly Waldorf spoke about the sexual consent workshops being offered to societies and sports teams, which covers what sexual consent is, ways to give and receive consent, scenarios of consent and lack of, myth busting and how to support friends. Kelly has been at the forefront of multiple campaigns and efforts to help educate students.
She said: “A student from NTSU’s Feminist Society approached me and asked if the University/SU could train students up to facilitate sexual consent workshops with students.”
This initiative is what is needed to help tackle this rising problem. Respect and consent training were also given to 450 freshers team members in September before they started their job roles, helping keep freshers safe while they explore Nottingham’s nightlife.
No one should ever be made to feel unsafe or uncomfortable on a night out. Dancing isn’t asking for it. Wearing a short skirt isn’t asking for it. What we are asking for is clubs to do their part in protecting their customers.
Sexual Violence Awareness Week, put together by NTU and NTSU, took place from the 4th-10th of February.
If you or anyone you know has been affected by this issue there are people you can contact and speak to in private. They can be found under Respect and Consent in Your Support on the NTSU website.
By Sarah Hannah