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UK's elite schools face a reckoning on rape culture

April 3, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 25.8%. 2 min read.

Nine years after being assaulted by a boy she alleges was a student at Eton College, Zan Moon can still remember the moment as if it was yesterday.

Like a growing number of young women in the UK, Moon is speaking out about her experiences -- and soliciting the memories of others -- to smash the stigma of discussing a "rape culture" which they say is rife in schools.

After compiling a 15-page dossier of alleged incidents at multiple institutions, Moon wrote an open letter to the heads of Eton, Tonbridge and others, serving them notice on the "chauvinism" that she said "runs deep inside the UK's private boys schools. " "It ends now," she wrote.

"'We will be listening carefully to our students, staff and alumni, as well as to anyone who has contacted us directly from outside the School, in establishing what more we can do to ensure that sexual harassment and abuse are never accepted and that everyone will feel supported and able to come forward if they wish to," it said.

Moon's letter follows the initiative Everyone's Invited, a website that has garnered more than 13,000 testimonials detailing rape culture in British schools from current and former students.

The testimonies also include allegations of incidents at state schools and universities, highlighting the pervasive nature of harassment and violence against women in the UK -- an issue recently thrown into sharp relief by the killing of 33-year-old Londoner Sarah Everard, attacked while walking home from a friend's house.

In addition, where schools have been named on this website, officers are making contact with those schools and offering specialist support for any potential victims of sexual assaults," wrote the Metropolitan Police in a press release.

Highgate School in north London -- where girls as young as 11 held a walkout in protest -- has commissioned an immediate external review of the sexual abuse and harassment allegations raised by student testimonies.

While hundreds of schools were named on the site, some current and former students, Like Moon -- have written open letters to headteachers, detailing their experiences of misogyny, abuse, and sexual violence.

One letter, penned by former Dulwich College student Samuel Schulenburg, accused the south London boys' school of being a "breeding ground for sexual predators. " The letter was written to his former headmaster to raise awareness of problems at Dulwich, and detailed anonymous stories of sexual violence and harassment put forward by girls at James Allen's Girls School (JAGS), the sister school of Dulwich College.

So often in schools, it will be brushed under the carpet," said Elizabeth Brailsford, herself a former headteacher now with Solace Women's Aid, a charity that supports survivors of sexual violence and conducts educational workshops in schools.

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