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  1. ITV Report

Government orders inquiry into violence against women at universities

Government orders university heads to start a taskforce to deal with the problem. Credit: PA

The Government has ordered an inquiry into reducing violence against women at universities amid concerns sexist "lad culture" is endangering female students.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid has written to university heads instructing them to set up a taskforce to look into the problem and draw up a code of practice "to bring about cultural change".

Student unions have welcomed the move and warned that sexism and harassment are at "pandemic" levels at universities, with women routinely subjected to wolf whistling, groping in bars and offensive chanting.

Javid said nobody should be put off going to university because of fears about safety:

If my children choose that path, I would expect my daughter to be as safe as my son on any campus in this country.

We do not tolerate this behaviour in any part of society and I'm not prepared to let it take place on university campuses unchecked.

– Sajid Javid, Business Secretary
Sajid Javid orders a government inquiry into sexual harassment on university campuses. Credit: PA

Research carried out by the National Union of Students (NUS) last year revealed that a quarter of students have been groped or subjected to inappropriate touching, whilst two thirds reported seeing students put up with unwanted sexual comments.

Women's officer for Cambridge University's Student Union, Charlotte Chorley said: "It's fantastic that this is finally being recognised as a pandemic.

"In light of recent developments on American campuses, we can see that this is not just a national issue, but a global one. Lad culture and rape culture are insidious, and ubiquitous, and tackling them is essential to protect the health, wellbeing and success of women students."

A spokesman for the NUS said many universities had been reluctant to acknowledge a problem, and victims have had to go through a "huge ordeal" to lodge complaints.