More than one-third of university students report being victims of sexual abuse
The sexual abuse of university students in Quebec remains fairly common.
A survey of 9,000 students at six universities showed 37 percent were victims of some form of sexual abuse, either verbal, electronic, or physical.
Forty-two percent of students were repeatedly abused in some fashion, and 25 percent of the incidents had occurred in the past year.
Veronique Pronovost was a master's student at UQAM when she was attacked at a party by a professor.
"He pushed me on the balcony and grabbed my hand and put it his pants," she said.
Pronovost did not report the attack until three years after the fact, waiting until she had finished her degree, because she feared retaliation from her professor.
That, too, is very common.
The same study showed only ten percent of those sexually assaulted sought help, and that 36 percent never discussed what happened.
The results were published Monday by Sandrine Ricci.
"I'm afraid to say that things haven't changed that much. There's a persistence in the statistics of sexual violence," said Ricci.
The authors looked at incidents that occurred on and off campus in school-related activities.
"For e.g. the launching of a book, a conference outside of even Montreal or Quebec. You know all these occasions that university people face and where sexual violence can occur," said Ricci.
Provonost said the teacher that attacked her is still on the job, but due to confidentiality rules she was never able to hear what became of her complaint.
"I never knew what happened and at the end that made me question the process," said Pronovost.
Ricci said Pronovost's experience is one example of why schools need to allow anonymous reporting of such events, and why universities need a legal framework to handle these complaints.
Quebec's minister of Higher Education, Helene David, said Monday she will tour universities and CEGEPs to figure out how best to implement such a policy.
"I want to hear as many people as possible to hear what are the best practices, here in Quebec but also across Canada and the United States," said David.
She will hold five days of consultations between now and march and come up with a framework to deal with this problem before the end of the year.