Gender-based violence (GBV) is contrary to the University's Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Code and all forms of GBV are a criminal offence. 
The Scottish Government defines gender-based violence as a function of gender inequality and abuse of male power and privilege. It takes the form of actions that result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women and children, or affront to their human dignity, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. (Scottish Government 2016a:13) 
While it is acknowledged that GBV mostly affects women and that predominantly men are the main perpetrators, it may impact individuals of any age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race or religion and impacts on all classes of society. 
GBV is recognised as a society-wide issue and that implies that University staff and students will both be victims and perpetrators. As many as one in four female students have reported unwanted sexual behaviour while at university in the UK. (NUS Hidden Marks, 2010) 
Acts of GBV include, but are not limited to, domestic abuse (including coercive control), sexual violence (including rape), sexual harassment, stalking, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). These sub-categories of gender-based violence are expanded upon below: 
Sexual Harassment 
Sexual harassment is unwanted and unwelcome words, conduct or behaviour of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, embarrassing, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim. Sexual harassment may be verbal, non-verbal or physical. It can range from rude remarks about your appearance to violence and assault and can happen in person and/or through digital/online communications (e.g. mobile phones, online platforms and messages). 
Some common forms of sexual harassment are:  
  • sexual innuendoes
  • indecent or offensive remarks or jokes
  • questions or comments about your sex life
  • demands for sexual favours
  • being leered or stared at
  • the display of sexually explicit material (for example, in an office)
  • unwanted physical contact, such as brushing up against you or pinching you
  • 'flashing' - the act of exposing one's nudity to you
  • ‘Upskirting’ - the act of taking a photograph (also known as a “creepshot”) of underneath a person’s skirt without their permission  
Sexual harassment is an abuse of power. Many people are reluctant to complain about it, because they are afraid of making the situation worse, and possibly losing their job, home or friends as a result. They may feel that it's just part of life and must be tolerated. It is important to seek help if you can and not face this situation on your own. 
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment, find out what support is available by clicking here
Sexual Violence 
Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. There are many different kinds of sexual violence that exist on a continuum. The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 covers a range of behaviours that constitute sexual violence, such as:
  • Penetration of the vagina or anus by parts of the body (such as a finger) or objects (such as a bottle or a vibrator)
  • Being forcibly touched in a sexual manner
  • Ejaculating semen onto a person 
  • Forcing or coercing someone to have sex with someone else
  • Being forced to look at pornography  
Sexual assault and rape describe many of the aspects of what sexual violence can mean. According to NHS Health Scotland statistics, 20% of women and 4% of men experience sexual assault as adults (aged 16 to 59). Sexual violence can be perpetrated by a stranger or by someone known and trusted to the victim, including a friend, colleague, family member, partner or ex-partner. In 87% of cases of serious sexual assault against women, the victim knew the perpetrator and over half of these were committed by their partner. 
It is normal for reactions to vary when someone has been sexually assaulted. You may be afraid, angry or have no outward reaction at all.

The law defines consent as ‘free agreement’. 
For rape and sexual assault to be proved in court, it must be shown that the assault took place without the consent (agreement) of the victim or that the person responsible did not reasonably believe that the victim consented. Someone can withdraw consent at any stage even if they initially consented. 
Consent must be freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic and specific. Someone must have the capacity to give consent, meaning they are not under the influence of drugs, alcohol, threats or violence and that they understand the consequences of giving consent. The circumstances of what happened may mean that a victim is incapable of ‘free agreement’. 
You can find some more information about consent and GBV by clicking here
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, find out what support is available by clicking here
Domestic / Relationship Abuse 
Anyone can be a victim of domestic and relationship abuse.  Whilst predominately perpetrated by men and experienced by women, it can also affect men and non-binary people in any relationship, regardless of culture, religion, age or class.  It can include a range of behaviours and forms of control that can result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering and can be perpetrated by both current and/or previous partners within an intimate relationship, as well as family members or carers. This form of abuse is often referred to as domestic abuse and frequently includes wider forms of controlling behaviours such as isolation from friends and family; emotional and psychological abuse such as threats, verbal abuse, financial control; and threats to wider friends/family/pets/children. The abuse can be committed in the home or elsewhere, including online. 
Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to: 
  • Coercive control - a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence
  • Psychological and/or emotional abuse – like threats, humiliation, criticism and name-calling (including racial abuse), undermining your self-confidence, controlling what you do or who you speak to, stalking, isolating you from your friends and family, etc.
  • Physical or sexual abuse - like hitting, punching, kicking or burning; or rape or forcing you to engage in sexual acts
  • Financial or economic abuse - like not letting you work, or withholding money
  • Sexual harassment and stalking – see separate categories
  • Online or digital abuse - threatening to or distributing intimate images  
If you or someone you know has experienced domestic or relationship abuse, find out what support is available by clicking here
Honour Based Violence 
Honour-based violence (HBV) is based on the perception of family members or the community that you have brought shame upon them, or given them a bad name, and they threaten to hurt you because of this. This can include domestic violence, forced marriage, sexual assault, rape and psychological abuse. Many young people experiencing HBV think it’s their fault but it’s important to remember that nobody has the right to hurt you because you have taken decisions or actions that they may not agree with. 

Because HBV often happens in families and communities, it is important to get support outside of the family to help keep you safe. 

If you or someone you know has experienced honour-based violence, find out what support is available by clicking here
Stalking is illegal and can include being followed or constantly contacted by another person, like being sent unwanted emails or gifts. It consists of a pattern of persistent and unwanted attention that makes someone feel vulnerable, scared, anxious or harassed. Stalking can therefore happen in a physical environment, online or a mixture of both. This can occur both within and outwith a relationship e.g. between work colleagues, neighbours or strangers who have not formed any intimate relationship. 
Someone can be prosecuted if there are at least two instances of stalking behaviour that causes fear or alarm. 
Each stalking situation is unique and whilst stalkers may have different motivations, the tactics and techniques employed by each are often very similar. Examples of stalking behaviours include: 
  • Following someone or someone else who is associated with that person
  • Contacting or attempting to contact a person by any means
  • Publishing material about someone without their consent
  • Monitoring someone’s phone, internet, email or other forms of communication
  • Loitering in a public or private place
  • Interfering with someone’s property
  • Leaving unwanted gifts or notes for someone
  • Watching or spying on someone  
This is by no means an exhaustive list and each instance of stalking may present unique circumstances that are not listed above. 

Everyone has the right to feel safe - you should contact the police if you think you’re being stalked. 
If you or someone you know has experienced stalking, you can find out what support is available by clicking here

Find out more  
  • UWS GBV support pages. At UWS we want to encourage a culture that is respectful, promotes equality and does not tolerate sexual violence or related misconduct. See our support pages for more information on gender-based violence and consent. 
  • Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice (England) provide support if you have experienced any form of gender-based violence, including support for making a report to the police. 
  • Rape Crisis Scotland and Rape Crisis (for England and Wales) provide specialist support services and guidance for those that have experienced sexual violence.  
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