One in five young people between the ages of 12 and 20 believe it's "normal" for a male to pressure a female into sexual acts, according to a new survey released on Thursday.
A research survey of 1000 young people around Australia conducted by health, relationships and behavioural change campaign The Line also showed that 22 per cent of participants believed it's a female's responsibility to make it very clear when sex isn't wanted.
As thousands of students head back to universities around the country for the 2017 academic year, The Line Digital Youth Committee member Callum Jones said it's time to inform them that pressuring someone into sexual activities without consent is never OK.
"It's far from a crime to engage in sexual activity, but gaining consent must be mutual and continuous if we are to bring down the high rates of reported sexual assaults at universities across Australia," he said.
"From rapes in dorm rooms and bushes to being molested in corridors, female students have reported many horrifying incidents of sexual assault.
"This is why The Line is engaging with University students during [Orientation Week] to encourage people to understand what makes a relationship healthy and respectful, even if the relationship only lasts a night."
Campaign manager Nicola Weston also said this year's survey has shown a notable change from when The Line first started its research, in terms of attitudes when it comes to young people and relationships.
"Over the past thirteen months, there has been a measurable decrease, from 42 per cent to 29 per cent, in the number of young people who think that most females could leave a violent relationship if they wanted to," she said.
"Unfortunately, some victim blaming attitudes still exist with 1 in 5 young people believing that if a female is drunk or affected by drugs, she is at least partly responsible for unwanted sex, and 28 per cent believing it is hard to be respectful of a female who wears revealing clothing."
According to Weston, the change in attitude needs to come from perpetrators, rather than the responsibility being placed onto young victims of sexual assault.
"For too long, it's been the responsibility of victims to keep themselves safe. It's not the responsibility of the people being hurt to alter their behaviour, that's not where change needs to happen. It's the responsibility of people who think it's OK to be violent or controlling to change their behaviour," she said.
"The onus must always be on a perpetrator of assault, sexual or otherwise. It's about saying, when it comes to relationships, learn where the line is as the only one responsible for your behaviour if you cross it is you."
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