Whose To Blame: Sexual Harassment and Sex Education

New research has found that girls wear shorts under their school skirts due to fears of sexual harassment involving flashing their underwear. This supports the statistics reported by the BBC in September 2015 which revealed there had been 5,500 sexual offenses recorded in UK schools from 2011-2014. Within this number, 4,000 were alleged physical sexual assaults and over 600 were claimed as rape. Despite this, girls continue to have to modify behavior because of the adaptation of a “normalized culture of sexual harassment”. I have spoken out about this before. The pervading ‘preventative’ action around sexual harassment is to limit how the vulnerable dress, act etc. rather than curbing the actions of the guilty party. For how long will we continue to punish the victims of the crime?

The growth of this environment of sexual harassment has been blamed on the increasing availability of online pornography; according to one study it is suggested that up to 12% of websites are pornography.  This ease of access to sexual media has led to a greater acceptance of sexual violence towards women. Young people are able to access pornography from an alarmingly young age exposing them to ideas of sexual violence which they are ill-equipped to understand. According to Jo Sharpen, policy manager at Against Violence and Abuse pornography confuses young’s people’s perception of sexual consent. Sex seen in pornography leads to a belief that what is being presented is ‘normal’ sexual behavior that is accepted in our society. Sophie Bennet, co-director of UK Feminista explained that “we need to be teaching not only how girls change their behaviour – we need to be addressing the harmful attitudes that underpin violence against women and girls”. Where is the sexual education to myth bust these ideas? To instil our young with ideas surrounding correct sexual conduct? As I’ve said before, why isn’t society doing more to enforce that unless it’s an emphatic yes, then it’s a no when it comes to sex.

Marai Larasi, executive director of black feminist organization Imkaan explains further that ‘over the past few years…pornography which would have been considered hardcore pornography…is now the mainstream pornography…and involves the routine punishment of women’s bodies as entertainment”. Without intervention and holistic sexual education, pornography is a main source for our young people to seek answers about sexual intimacy. It is a result of our lax sexual education in society that sexual harassment, particularly of women but also of men as well, has become so pervasive and primarily misunderstood with our young people. Until the time that victim-blaming ceases I will be reminding us all that we are doing our children a disservice, we are failing them. When we complain about a rising tide of sexual crimes we need to ask ourselves – who is really to blame?

 

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