Creating a safe environment
In a safe culture consent is the norm. But not everyone is aware of this. This means that sexual harassment is still common, also at our university.
Research commissioned by Amnesty International has shown that 64% of Dutch students do not know where to report sexual violence within their educational institution. And 11% of female students experience rape during their studies. Among male students the figure is 1%.
With the Consent is Key campaign, Leiden University wants to draw attention to sexual harassment and get people talking about this difficult subject. We will work together to prevent sexual harassment and create a safe environment. On this page you will find more information about consent and where to turn if you need help. You’ll also find tips on how to respect other people’s boundaries.
"Sexual harassment and violence will not be tolerated" Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is an umbrella term for all forms of sexual behaviour that are unwelcome or transgresses other people’s boundaries. Other terms for this are inappropriate sexual behaviour and sexual violence. It refers to sexual acts that are unwelcome and that people are forced to carry out, undergo or watch. People can also be deeply affected by unwelcome, sexually suggestive comments and intimidation, which means these too qualify as sexual harassment. In all events, it is good to seek help and important to know that such behaviour is neither normal nor acceptable.
Where can you turn?
Sexual Assault Center
Have you experienced sexual assault, rape or online abuse? Contact the Sexual Assault Center as soon as possible. They work with doctors, nurses, the police and social workers to give you the care you need. Visite their website or call 0800-0188
Have you been sexually harassed by a lecturer, staff member or another student? Contact the confidential counsellors for unacceptable behaviour. They are independent and anything you discuss with them is confidential. They will look after you and provide advice and support.
How do you give and get consent?
1. Clear words and actions
Have you had a nice date or met someone at a festival? Do you click and does it feel right? It’s still important that you both consent to sexual behaviour, both verbally and non-verbally. Always check your assumptions and expectations with the other person.
2. Dare to ask
Some people find it hard to decide where their boundaries are or to state them. If you notice that the other person is unsure and does not respond wholeheartedly to your proposal, help them (and yourself) by asking questions before taking the next step.
3. Clear-headed and aware
Are you both in a state where you can think clearly and make a decision? Also check this with the other person. Just because someone is drunk and snuggling up to you at a party doesn’t mean they consent to further sexual contact.
4. Consent is voluntary
Asking questions doesn’t mean putting pressure or steering someone in a direction that suits you. Consent can never be given if there is (peer) pressure, manipulation or physical violence.
5. Alcohol is no excuse
The reverse also applies: if someone is under the influence of alcohol (or drugs), this does not make unwelcome behaviour ok. They still are entitled to be safe and treated as an equal.
6. You can always change your mind
Even if you have both agreed to sexual contact, you can always stop. You’re allowed to change your mind. What the other person thinks is not your responsibility.
What is consent?
Let's talk about YES
On 10 March 2022, Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl signed Amnesty International’s ‘Let’s talk about YES’ manifesto against sexual violence. The University has therefore pledged its commitment to preventing sexual violence.
After signing the Amnesty manifesto, the University launched an action plan on tackling sexual harassment. This focuses on prevention, better information, better support for students who have experienced sexual harassment and cooperation within the region and the University. The Consent is Key campaign is part of this action plan.
Header and footer image by Margriet Osinga.