Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 12:06 UK

Three Welsh politicians 'raped'

Senedd building
Eight of 60 AMs in the Senedd in Cardiff answered the questionnaire

Three members of the Welsh assembly have disclosed in a questionnaire they were sent by one of their colleagues that they have been raped.

Nerys Evans sent it to all 60 Assembly Members (AMs) and eight responded.

None of the three reported the rape, and neither did another AM who was a victim of domestic abuse.

The Plaid Cymru AM's questionnaire coincides with a larger survey of students by Amnesty International and NUS Wales about violence against women.

A total of seven women and one man responded to Ms Evans's questionnaire.

Five of those said they knew someone who had been sexually assaulted without reporting the incident.

The eight AMs also said they knew someone who had been abused by a violent partner. Two of the victims contacted police, and three sought help.

Ms Evans told BBC Wales the three AMs who had been raped were willing for the information to be disclosed, on condition of anonymity.

Miss Evans said: "I am surprised at the results. They are pretty shocking. It just shows how widespread violence against women and domestic abuse is."

She is launching the results of the Amnesty and NUS survey at the assembly on Wednesday.

The two organisations are calling on the assembly government and universities and colleges in Wales to take measures to tackle violence against women students.

The survey of more than 700 students across Welsh campuses found 64% of respondents knew women whose partners had hit them, and 41% knew women who had been pressurised or coerced into sex.

A third also believed a woman was totally or partially responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted if she was drunk or had been flirtatious, and a quarter thought she was in some way to blame if she walked alone in a deserted area.

Amnesty and the NUS described those statistics as a "shocking level of tolerance for sexual violence".

Isolated

Ms Evans is calling on the assembly government to fund an awareness-raising campaign in Wales.

She said: "It is disappointing that attitudes of our young people haven't moved on. This presents a worrying future.

"There is a real need to tackle the suggestion that a woman can be responsible for being raped."

She thinks there is a particular problem for abuse victims in isolated parts of the country.

"There are so many rural communities in Wales where there's no access to help.

"Although services for victims are improving across different parts of Wales, it is imperative that we bring attention to this issue in order to bring the message home that violence against women is unacceptable."

Cathy Owens, Amnesty International's programme director in Wales, said: "If we are going to break the cycle of violence that sees a third of all women in Wales suffering from some sort of violence, then we need to start by challenging attitudes towards violence against women amongst students and the population at large.

"The Welsh Assembly Government should consider a comprehensive campaign aimed at preventing violence - making it far less acceptable on our campuses and in our communities."




SEE ALSO
Students reveal domestic violence
01 Jul 08 |  Education
Bid to strengthen sex crime laws
18 Jun 08 |  Scotland
Bid to stop blame theory on rape
04 Mar 08 |  Scotland

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