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UK’s elite faculties face a counting on rape tradition

“I can picture the hallway where it happened, his hands around my neck choking me,” she says. “Then he put his hands down my pants… It was painful. I told him to stop.”

Moon says the five-hour assault occurred exterior of college in a secluded cottage on England’s South Coast, rented for the weekend by a pal on the elite ladies’ boarding college she attended: Benenden. She was 15 then.

Boys from the 2 all-male faculties the ladies typically socialized with — Eton and Tonbridge — had been additionally there and noticed her battle her aggressor off a number of occasions. Yet nobody intervened, she says.

“We’re privileged kids, but despite all the money that goes on the maths and lacrosse lessons, not a penny is spent in these schools teaching students about their right to be safe from this type of behavior, which is a disgrace,” Moon remembers of her college days.

“And it’s important we talk about this because these are the men who will in some cases go on to run the country,” she provides.

Eton, which has educated quite a few British prime ministers, together with the incumbent Boris Johnson, and Princes William and Harry, informed CNN by e-mail that it does run workshops on wholesome relationships, instructing pupils about consent. It mentioned it at all times takes particular allegations extraordinarily critically, supporting these affected and dealing with the police and kids’s providers, when applicable.

“Safeguarding the welfare of young people is our highest priority,” mentioned Eton in an announcement. “All involved in education have a responsibility to recognize that we can and must do more so as to effect meaningful and sustained change, for the benefit of all young people.”

The college didn’t deal with CNN’s particular questions on what Zan Moon has alleged.

‘Rape Culture’

Like a rising variety of younger girls within the UK, Moon is talking out about her experiences — and soliciting the recollections of others — to smash the stigma of discussing a “rape culture” which they are saying is rife in faculties.

What has burst forth is a refrain of anger, drowning out the deafening silence that beforehand surrounded the difficulty of sexual violence amongst college kids.

After compiling a 15-page file of alleged incidents at a number of establishments, Moon wrote an open letter to the heads of Eton, Tonbridge and others, serving them discover on the “chauvinism” that she mentioned “runs deep inside the UK’s private boys schools.” “It ends now,” she wrote.

James Priory, the headmaster of Tonbridge, expressed “significant concern” after studying Moon’s letter, saying in an announcement that such behaviors had no place in his college. Tonbridge additionally mentioned in an announcement that it teaches consent to its pupils and refers incidents to the authorities when needed.

“‘We will be listening carefully to our students, staff and alumni, as well as to anyone who has contacted us directly from outside the School, in establishing what more we can do to ensure that sexual harassment and abuse are never accepted and that everyone will feel supported and able to come forward if they wish to,” it mentioned.

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Moon’s letter follows the initiative Everyone’s Invited, an internet site that has garnered greater than 13,000 testimonials detailing rape tradition in British faculties from present and former college students.

They embody accounts of 10-year-olds being catcalled, 12-year-olds being sexted, and disturbing allegations of rape — all nicely under the UK’s authorized age of consent at 16 years previous. The testimonies additionally embody allegations of incidents at state faculties and universities, highlighting the pervasive nature of harassment and violence towards girls within the UK — a difficulty not too long ago thrown into sharp aid by the killing of 33-year-old Londoner Sarah Everard, attacked whereas strolling residence from a pal’s home.

“It’s a lot wider than just the schools that have been named,” says Everyone’s Invited founder Soma Sara, a Londoner and former scholar of Wycombe Abbey ladies’ college. “There is a culture within our whole society of acceptance of sexual aggression and harassment. It’s a culture that trivializes and normalized the worst behaviors and that can create an environment where sexual violence can exist and thrive.”

A brand new helpline and motion promised

On Thursday, the UK’s Department for Education launched a brand new helpline to help potential victims of sexual harassment and abuse in academic settings. The authorities additionally introduced a direct evaluate of safeguarding insurance policies in state and impartial faculties. Meanwhile, London’s Metropolitan Police are investigating a number of particular offences in relation to allegations on Everyone’s Invited, and police are encouraging sexual assault survivors to talk out and search help.

“We have subsequently acquired various studies of particular offences.

In addition, the place faculties have been named on this web site, officers are making contact with these faculties and providing specialist help for any potential victims of sexual assaults,” wrote the Metropolitan Police in a press launch.

“We understand the complex and varied reasons why many victim-survivors do not contact law enforcement, but I want to personally reassure anyone who needs our help that we are absolutely here for you,” mentioned The Met’s lead for rape and sexual offences, Detective Superintendent Mel Laremore.

The nameless nature of the posts shared on such platforms makes it onerous to look into claims until they’re particular.

Individual faculties have additionally launched investigations. Highgate School in north London — the place ladies in Year 11 (aged 15/16) and above held a walkout in protest — has commissioned a direct exterior evaluate of the sexual abuse and harassment allegations raised by scholar testimonies. It mentioned in an announcement:

“We are deeply shocked and horrified by the allegations that have recently come to light. The Highgate they describe runs entirely contrary to the values of our whole community … We are truly sorry.”

King’s College School in Wimbledon, southwest London, additionally commissioned an impartial evaluate and mentioned it won’t settle for any type of abuse or discrimination.

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“The school has established a system to handle disclosures made by pupils, past or present and to offer support, and we urge anyone affected by these issues to come forward,” it mentioned.

The Everyone’s Invited web site has since stopped posting the names of faculties alongside testimonies, however the debate continues. While tons of of faculties had been named on the positioning, some present and former college students, Like Moon — have written open letters to headteachers, detailing their experiences of misogyny, abuse, and sexual violence.

One letter, penned by former Dulwich College scholar Samuel Schulenburg, accused the south London boys’ college of being a “breeding ground for sexual predators.” The letter was written to his former headmaster to lift consciousness of issues at Dulwich, and detailed nameless tales of sexual violence and harassment put ahead by ladies at James Allen’s Girls School (JAGS), the sister college of Dulwich College.

Ribbons tied to the gates of James Allen's Girls' School, the sister school of Dulwich College.

In response to the open letter and nameless allegations, Dulwich College headmaster Joe Spence mentioned in an announcement, “The behavior described is distressing and entirely unacceptable; we condemn it unreservedly.”

“Whilst we cannot comment on anonymous testimonies, any specific and evidenced allegations will be addressed, and we will involve external authorities where appropriate,” Spence added. “As a boys’ school the first thing we must do is listen to what women and girls are telling us about their experiences and their concerns, but we also have a particular part to play, as educators of boys, in making a difference.”

Victims requested to maneuver faculties

The Children’s Commissioner, Rachel de Souza, mentioned in an announcement that “there is no excuse” for any college failing to comply with safeguarding tips and supply victims help. Activists and girls’s campaigners say extra preventative schooling can be wanted in faculties — nicely earlier than the onset of puberty.
“I think there’s a lack of severity taken when disclosures are made. So often in schools, it will be brushed under the carpet,” mentioned Elizabeth Brailsford, herself a former headteacher now with Solace Women’s Aid, a charity that helps survivors of sexual violence and conducts academic workshops in faculties.

“Every time we go in to do a series of our sessions on healthy relationships, we’ll get young people that come forward and tell us about experiences that they’ve had,” Brailsford mentioned. She added that it is “too common” for faculties to counsel that ladies who come ahead with disclosures depart the varsity, “even though they’re not the one that perpetrated the sexual assault.”

Women’s rights campaigners say that is little shock in a rustic the place sexual violence is now prosecuted at a a lot decrease fee than in years passed by.

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Rape prosecution charges dropped by 30% between 2019-2020 in contrast with the earlier yr, in keeping with information from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). More than 55,000 circumstances of rape had been recorded in 2019-2020 however only one.4% resulted in a cost or summons, the CPS information mentioned.
Sexual assault, rape, and tried sexual violence typically goes unreported, and it is tough to amount experiences of rape tradition extra broadly. Fewer than 16% of victims in England and Wales report their expertise of assault to the police, in keeping with information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). But amongst girls aged 16 to 74, multiple in 20 (6.2%) have skilled rape or tried rape, whereas 4.8% have skilled assault by penetration.
Meanwhile, 58% of women aged 14 to 21 say they’ve been publicly sexually harassed of their studying setting, in keeping with a brand new survey from Plan International, a world kids’s charity.

“I only realized fairly recently that most of the sexual relationships I had when I was younger were not what I would describe as consensual,” says Moon.

“The whole top private school system is set up to protect the boy’s prospects and the school’s reputation. That’s the priority,” Moon mentioned. “What happens to us girls doesn’t matter to them.”

An earlier model of this story incorrectly acknowledged the age of the ladies who protested at Highgate School. They had been aged 15/16 and upwards.

Li-Lian Ahlskog Hou contributed to this report.

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