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Union urges students to take part in sexual consent survey

The issue of consent was central to the case involving former Ulster Rugby players Stuart Olding (left) and Paddy Jackson (right) who were cleared of rape. Picture by Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk
The issue of consent was central to the case involving former Ulster Rugby players Stuart Olding (left) and Paddy Jackson (right) who were cleared of rape. Picture by Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk

STUDENTS aged 16 and over are being asked to take part in a survey on non-consensual sexual experiences.

It is being carried out by NUS-USI, the national union for students in Northern Ireland.

Union president Olivia Potter-Hughes said the aim was to examine the extent of the issue and to "build campaigning work" around the findings.

The launch comes just months after the high-profile court case involving former Ulster Rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding who were found not guilty of raping a then 19-year-old woman in 2016.

Ultimately, the trial came down to the question of consent with the men claiming that all sexual activity was consensual.

The survey, which was initiated before the rugby rape case, has been developed by a steering group that also includes Nexus, Women’s Aid, the Rainbow Project and academics.

Ms Potter-Hughes said: “We believe that this is the most important and ambitious piece of research that NUS-USI has ever conducted.

“We are calling on all higher education and further education students who are 16 or over to complete this survey, even if it does not seem applicable, as the more responses we receive the more accurate the data.

“Sexual violence has to be eradicated. The more survey responses we have, the better the potential for building the strongest possible case to try and deliver additional support services for students who’ve experienced non-consensual sexual experiences, and gain commitments for additional resources for work on promoting consent."

The survey will remain open until Wednesday, February 6 and is completely confidential.