AHRC Survey on Campus Sexual Assault and Harassment

Celebrating our safe universities

Here’s Bettina’s comments on the release of the AHRC campus survey, which were included in her recent book #MenToo.

The first week in August 2017 was a very big week for Australian Universities. Across the country they had been preparing for a flood of sexual assault victims to come forward following the release of the Human Rights Commission’s trumped-up survey into the rape crisis on our campuses.

Universities embarked on endless virtue-signalling in anticipation of bad tidings. Vice Chancellors boasted of spending millions on a 24-hour national hot line, sexual assault counsellors and compulsory sexual consent courses for staff and students.

Then, hilariously, came the release of the survey results and the emperor was revealed quite naked. The survey found only 1.6 percent of students reported being sexually assaulted on campus over a two-year period from 2015-2016 – the yearly figures were too small to report. This was using a broad definition which included being “tricked into sexual acts against their will.” Most of the students didn’t report the sexual assaults either because they didn’t feel it was serious enough (40 per cent), or because they did not need any help (another 40 per cent).

All the million-dollar survey came up with was a high incidence of low-level harassment – mainly staring and sexual jokes or comments. And a greater proportion of males than females said they’d experienced the more serious forms of harassment like unwelcome touching or inappropriate physical contact.

So, it turned out there was no rape crisis at all, although clearly it’s a good idea for this harassment to be discouraged. Writing prior to the release, I predicted this good news would be totally buried in the massive media blitz, particularly on Fairfax and the ABC who have bought into the rape crisis narrative. And that’s just what happened. Current affairs programmes, radio shows and journalists everywhere trotted out horrific stories from submissions from alleged rape “victims” describing their experiences – all solicited by the Commission. The problem is they are not rape “victims.” They are accusers whose stories have never been tested in court. Mainly date rape cases – he-said, she-said stories revolving around sexual consent. Such cases often don’t result in convictions because juries won’t convict young men of these very serious crimes unless there is clear evidence of their guilt.

That’s what led to the whole concocted campaign. Feminists want these young men convicted and are brow-beating universities to side-step the criminal justice system and ensure more males are punished.

In the week preceding the release of the survey results I sent out a series of questions to Vice Chancellors across the country asking why they are risking the reputation of Australian universities as a safe place for international students. Universities had been given the survey results well in advance of the release, so they were all fully aware that there was no real cause for concern, yet still they chose to pander to the feminist lobby rather than celebrate our safe universities.

Privately university officials will acknowledge they are concerned that this scare campaign may bite the hand that feeds them. Australia’s proportion of full-fee paying foreign students is triple the international average. Yet publicly they run for cover. It was hilarious reading the weasel words concocted by university media units to try to avoid addressing the issue in their responses to me. Not one responded directly to my questions about the risk to the overseas student market.

“Our strong safety record is cited by 93 per cent of our international students as a key reason why they chose Australia,” admitted Belinda Robinson, CEO of Universities Australia but then artfully suggested this was the reason to “address unacceptable behaviours head on.” I’m told Robinson has acknowledged to campus officials that they tread a difficult line in sustaining this argument.

Many watching what’s happening are bewildered by our intellectual elite’s capitulation to this feminist propaganda campaign. In this globalized world it is impossible to believe that our university administrators are not aware of the troubles facing American universities battling large numbers of Federal Court law suits over young men who were unfairly treated by campus tribunals following accusations of sexual assault. Yet still our universities lack the gumption to stand up to the small numbers of feminist activists and resist following down the same path.

The real concern is not only frightening off the families of potential full-fee paying young women who might choose to study here. There’s also the risk we will deter young men nervous they could be falsely accused of such crimes. I have written before that nerdy young outsiders are particularly likely to find themselves in this situation – American universities have made large payouts to wrongly accused young Asian men.

Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj, an Indian journalist and documentary filmmaker based in Gururgram, believes that the current rape culture campaign will push Australia further down the preferred list of countries for higher education for Indian parents considering our country for either daughters or sons.

Bhardwaj describes what happened in an Indian city called Rohtak in Haryana which attracted huge publicity a few years ago over alleged sexual attacks on women which ultimately turned out to be false. “The media hysteria had a huge impact on psyche of parents considering choosing the prestigious institute IIM Rohtak for their daughters.” In 2013 equal numbers of males and females were studying at the Institute but by 2015, there were just 14 women and 150 men.

“Indian parents will be extremely hesitant of sending their daughters to Australia for higher education if universities claim such high rates of sexual assault,” says Bhardwaj, adding that “parents will also be concerned about sons being at risk of false allegations.” Her most recent documentary, Martyrs of Marriage, concerns the misuse of dowry laws to persecute men and their families. “I know all about how easy it is for men to have their lives ruined by this type of feminist campaign,” she says.

But the scene is set in Australia for our universities to continue down this dangerous path. A year after the release of the Human Rights Commission survey results, Vice-Chancellors across the country were boasting of the efforts they have made to combat sexual violence, to the applause of media commentary in most mainstream media. As the sole naysayer mine was a very lonely voice.

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