12.5% of female students are threatened into sexual contact

NUIG’s SHAG Report is the first comprehensive study of college student’s sexual behaviour

  12.5% of young women and 2.5% of young men report having experienced sexual contact where physical force or threats to physically harm them were used, according to the results of a survey published by the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG).

The Sexual Health and Attitudes, Galway (SHAG) Report outlines the results of an online survey carried out by the university on its students in 2015. 1,691 people aged 18-29 responded to the survey, which is the first comprehensive study of sexual behaviour and sexual assault in a college population in Ireland.

The report found that 20% of females and 5% of males have experienced sexual contact where they were threatened but the perpetrator was unsuccessful. To communicate consent to sexual intercourse, 50% of females and 58% of males agree/strongly agree that they would just keep moving forward in sexual behaviours or actions unless their partner stopped them.

Over the 12 months previous to the survey, 8% of female respondents and 3% of males reported to have had a sexual experience where they were unable to give consent within that time period.

The survey also included several statements which participants were asked to respond to. 23% of females and 37% of males agreed with the statement that “if a girl acts like a slut, eventually she is going to get into trouble,” while 27% of females and 35% of males agreed with the statement that “guys don’t usually intend to force sex on a girl, but sometimes they get too sexually carried away”.

In terms of alcohol use, 35% of females and 58% of males agree that, while under the influence of alcohol, they have had sex with people with whom they wouldn’t when sober. In addition, 31.5% of females and 57% of males find it harder to say “no” to sexual advances after drinking.

The survey found that 31.1% of females and 38.5% of male respondents binge drink weekly, which is to drink over six alcoholic beverages at one time. 76% of females and 69% of males responded as being less nervous having sex after drinking.

In a joint foreword to the report, Dr. Pat Morgan, Vice-President for the Student Experience, and John Hannon, Director of Student Services, commented: “This report presents findings from a survey that was the first of its kind undertaken in Ireland. As such, we now have a reference point of key factors related to sexual behaviour and a greater understanding of these in an Irish context.”

The report was prepared by Elaine Byrnes, a postgraduate student at NUIG, and Dr. Padraig MacNeela, a psychology lecturer at the university.

Michael Gilna

Michael Gilna is a former Investigations Editor of Trinity News.