Gender based violence, stalking and fear of crime have serious
consequences for victims – physically and psychologically and play a
dominant role in the criminal policy debate. Despite the relevance of
the topic, knowledge on sexual victimisation is fragmentary in the
European Union. Official crime statistics just map recorded cases, the
part of crime which is reported to the police. In the field of sexual
delinquency this statistics are not representative, as only few victims
report their case to the police.
A further problem especially for comparing the victimisation rates on a transnational level are differences in definition and understanding on what is counted as sexual victimisation. Existing studies on victimisation show that especially students are affected by sexual victimisation. Their age as well as their life style makes them to a high risk target for rape, sexual harassment and stalking. Research shows that female victims of sexual violence partly terminate or change school, vocational training or studies. Studies show that female students express in general a higher fear of crime than male students.
Victimisation and fear of crime can have negative influences on studies. For this it is comprehensible that in the US – along an intense overall research on sexual violence – campus research is common and most of the universities have implemented special prevention programs for the reduction of victimisation of female students. The situation in Europe is different. Although practitioners working at universities (e.g. equal opportunity officers) do have an interest on dealing with sexual harassment and violence, until now there has been a lack of scientific research on this topic. In specific well-documented and evaluated intervention – or prevention-projects on gender based violence have not existed in European member states.
The victimisation of young women through sexual harassment, stalking and sexual violence, their fear of crime, and their need for support were the subject of an online questionnaire made available at universities in Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and Britain to which some 22,000 students in all responded. An evaluation of these quantitative data was undertaken along with additional material gathered through interviews with both female students and with experts in support services and the criminal justice system. The resulting insights are used to formulate recommendations for strategic prevention and intervention to counter victimisation from sexual violence. The aim is to reduce young women’s fear of crime and to find ways of guaranteeing them improved support and greater security and safety at their places of study.