Research carried out with higher education students shows that there is a sexist behavior behind acts of violence against women in fields public and private university students. The attacks include rapes and sexual harassment, in addition to other humiliation of women committed at student parties, receptions for freshmen, on the way to or from classrooms and other circumstances that favor aggression.
The survey – commissioned by Instituto Avon to Data Popular – was carried out with 1.823 female and male students from all regions of the country, with more than half of respondents (51%) aged between 16 and 25, 53% from middle class and 76% study at private colleges.
“The research was very important to break a great myth that violence against women is strongly linked to education or the socioeconomic level of those who practice it. The walls of universities are not impermeable to the machismo that happens in the rest of Brazilian society”, said Renato Meirelles, president of Data Popular.
According to Meirelles, 2,9 million women have already suffered some type of physical violence in universities. “This is more than the population of 90% of Brazilian cities.” For him, this hinders the good development of learning and generates a consequence for the professional future of women.
According to the director, after graduating, university students end up taking into their daily lives the effects of sexist behavior, which is multiplied and results in distortions in the job market. An example of this is the fact that women perform the same functions as men, but receiving lower wages.
Of the total number of students consulted, 42% declared that they were already afraid of suffering violence in the university environment. Another 36% reported having stopped doing some activity due to this fear. In the reports, according to Data Popular, they justified that “they have the perception that not only external criminals, but also colleagues, teachers and everyday partners can be protagonists of violence, ranging from intellectual disqualification to moral and sexual harassment, reaching the point of rape".
Rape cases were mentioned by 14% of the students, and 11% said they had already suffered attempted sexual abuse because they were under the influence of alcohol. Regarding sexual harassment, 73% said they were aware of cases; 56% declared themselves victims and 26% confessed to having committed some type of harassment. There are situations where teachers have offered “little gifts in exchange for an easier test”.
The interviews were conducted over the internet. One student reported that “a girl was raped at the party while she was sleeping. At another party, she learned that someone else was given drugs without her knowing, and she was also raped.” One of the students said that “there are women who do not respect themselves, who wear clothes to offer themselves”.
The acts classified as coercion were mentioned by 12% of the students interviewed, and 11% said they had been coerced into participating in parades, auctions or other degrading activities. For 27% of male students it is normal to abuse a girl if she is drunk and 35% of them also do not consider it violence to coerce a woman to participate in degrading activities such as parades and auctions.
“If we don't denaturalize prejudice and violence against women, they will continue to nurture the next generations”, said Avon Institute president Alessandra Ginante. She pointed out that, from the first years of life, children are encouraged to have different behaviors, which seems normal to most people.
Alessandra highlighted that it is common, in adolescence, for the family to let the boys free, doing what they want, while the girls are educated with control over time, clothes and people with whom they relate.
The research was presented in the third edition of the Fale Sem Medo Forum and is part of the 16 Days of Activism for the End of Violence against Women movement.