The movement, Everyone’s Invited, seeks to provide education on the ‘complex reality of rape culture’ and to promote the need for the issue to be tackled across the education sector.
In an interview to the BBC, Soma Sara advised of the “normalising and trivialising” of incidents such as groping, revenge-porn and non-consensual sharing of intimate photos, potentially creating a “gateway to more extreme criminal acts”.
Users of the website are able to anonymously submit their story which is then posted onto the testimonials section of the website. The focus has been on schools and universities, with Dulwich College and Highgate School confirming that they will be taking action and launching immediate reviews. Whilst the website did initially place attention on private schools, it is clear from the increasing number of testimonials that rape culture is a much wider issue with there being multiple state school reports, over 80 universities named and allegations made against businesses by those who have suffered abuse within employment. Ms Soma has confirmed there has been a 33% increase in testimonies from the state sector and a 44% increase in testimonies from universities since 9 March
Some of the themes which have emerged from the testimonials have been peer on peer abuse and sexism, sexual assault taking place in social settings such as bars and clubs, and cat-calling. Many of the testimonials discuss the issue of consent which highlights a need for education on this topic across schools and universities. The Government have announced that such education, as well as teaching on abuse, cyber bullying and pornography will form part of the Ofsted review.
The staggering number of stories gathered so far has led to a new police helpline being set up, and the National Police Chief’s Council lead on child protection has promised that the “allegations which are of a criminal nature” will be investigated. The helpline seeks to make sure all victims can access the support they need.
The movement was addressed by Education Secretary for England, Gavin Williamson who stated that ‘No school – whether an independent school or state school – should ever be an environment where young people feel unsafe, let alone somewhere where sexual abuse can take place.” Robert Halforn, chairman of the House of Commons, has also called for a “full independent inquiry to find out why so many female students have suffered from sexual abuse and harassment.”
Ofsted have now said that inspectors will carry out checks and visits to schools in England that have been subject to recent complaints regarding sexual assault following the Government’s call for an emergency review. This will involve inspection teams completing visits to a sample of schools, colleges and universities named on the Everyone’s Invited website and such inspections are due to be completed by the end of May. Ofsted have confirmed that should there be widespread failures across the institutions, which will not be reported on individually at this stage, they will “immediately carry out a full inspection, which will result in a published report”.