Violence against women at university is so widespread that one in seven female students have been the victim of serious sexual assault or serious physical violence while at university or college and one in four has suffered inappropriate touching or groping.
In 2015, Soul Action surveyed young, female delegates at the Christian festival Momentum about their sexual experiences; more than half of the respondents had experienced unwanted sexual touching, 30 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that they had experienced fear of their partner in a relationship and 42 per cent had been pressured to perform sexual acts they didn’t want to by a partner.
Male violence against women is a serious problem both inside and outside our Christian communities and I believe that now is a crucial time for us to take action. Paul writes in Romans 12: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This week, Unashamed is unfolding at universities across the UK. It’s a collaboration between Restored and Just Love. As students involved in the campaign, we’ve called it ‘Unashamed’ because we want to be unashamed in condemning violence wherever we see it and in standing with those subjected to it.
We want to be part of a wider movement of Christian and secular organisations working together to overcome the evil of violence against women. We believe that we won’t be an effective witness for Jesus in our universities unless we stand with those facing injustice, just as Jesus did.
Over the Unashamed Campaign week we’ll be raising awareness by sharing stories about the effects of violence and abuse, challenging the culture that allows it to thrive by discussing ways in which we can confront abuse and violence in our own contexts and we’ll be celebrating positive stories of the change that’s already happening. Whether you’re a student or not, you’re really welcome to join the conversation over on the Unashamed Facebook page or on Twitter.
While our hope and prayer is that Unashamed will galvanise our generation of students into compassionate, Jesus-centred action to eradicate violence against women, we’re aware of the obvious limits of a week-long campaign.
We also want to commend the long-term work of Restored, an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women. If you’re a man, then joining the First Man Standing community is a brilliant way of committing to the fight for gender justice alongside other Christian men. We’d also recommend connecting with IC Change, a campaign to see the Istanbul Convention, the most comprehensive legal framework on ending violence against women and girls, ratified by the UK Government.
Wherever you are today and whatever situation you find yourself in, why not take a few moments to ask God how you can work with others to overcome evil with good.