Statement on Everyone’s Invited

Exeter, March 29th, 2021

The prevalence of a rape culture in UK schools revealed through the testimonies on the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ website, is shocking proof that our children are growing up in a misogynistic culture where young men believe they can get away with rape.
“Our girls are growing up in an environment where boys and men can be pretty confident they will get away with sexual violence. As adults, it is our responsibility to end this misogynistic behaviour which starts with what may seem to be harmless sexual harassment or ‘banter’, but can ultimately lead to sexual violence and rape,” said Caroline Voaden, CEO of Devon Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Services.
A recent UN Women report revealed that 97% of young women say that have been sexually harassed, and one in five UK women will experience some kind of sexual assault.
Only around 15% of victims report to the police and of the reported cases, only 5.7% of cases end with a conviction.1
“Here in Devon we support around 120 people a week – the vast majority of them women – who have been raped, assaulted or sexually abused as a child. We saw more referrals in March 2021 than ever before. The coverage of Everyone’s Invited, coming so soon after the intense media coverage of Sarah Everard’s murder, is only going to lead to more trauma for girls and women, and more referrals to services like ours,” said Voaden.
“There is no easy answer, but the truth is that few parents are fully aware of what is really going on and few schools are equipped to handle it. If we are educating our children to grow up into fully-formed adults who can have successful relationships with friends, partners and colleagues, then we absolutely have to include this in every classroom in the country.
“There should be staff in every school who are trained in how to handle disclosure of sexual assault or rape; trained in the effects of trauma; trained in the reality of what happens in the brain when someone is violated and why ‘freeze’ is a far more common and explainable reaction than fight or flight. We need an end to victim blaming and responsibility laid correctly and squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrators.
“Girls need to know there is someone they can talk to – telling parents can be very difficult.
“Schools need to educate boys in respect for women, what consent really means and how to be an active bystander. And they need to be ready to deal with alleged perpetrators.
“Every time I attend a regional meeting about violence against women and girls I ask why the educators are not in the room. They should be, and we are ready to help them learn how to support victims and educate our young men.”


Stats from Rape Crisis England and Wales:
• One in five women will experience sexual assault or rape in the UK.
• Conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator. (Kelly, Lovett and Regan, A gap or a chasm? Attrition in reported rape cases, 2005)
• Only 4% of women will report rape or sexual assault. Most know there’s no point as it won’t go anywhere. If the police do believe they have enough evidence to pursue a case it can take years before it reaches court, hanging over a complainant’s life and preventing her recovery.
UNWomen report 97% of young women in the UK say they have been sexually harassed.

For more information please contact:

Caroline Voaden
07464 083832 or 07941 794277