Everyone’s Invited: The website revealing UK schools’ ‘rape culture’
Written by Hitmix News on 31 March 2021
Thousands of reports of sexual harassment, abuse and assault of pupils have prompted an outcry over the “rape culture” within UK schools.
Sky News looks at how these reports have come about and what is being done.
What is happening?
More than 10,000 reports had been posted on the Everyone’s Invited website by Tuesday morning – twice the amount two days before.
Pupils, ex-pupils and university students are able to anonymously share their experiences of “rape culture” – when abnormal behaviours are normalised, including misogyny, harassment, abuse and assault – on the website.
Many of the testimonies reveal which school or university the person they were assaulted by are, or were, at.
Image: Georgina Edwards has spoken out to encourage others to come forward
More than 100 schools have been named in the harrowing testimonies, including top private schools Eton College, St Paul’s Boys’ School, Dulwich College, Westminster School, Wellington College and Highgate School.
A lot of the alleged perpetrators are said to be at the same school or in the same social groups.
The majority of the reports are from girls and young women but a few are from boys or young men.
Many of the reports were initially from private schools, particularly in London, but that has widened to testimonies from state schools across the UK now.
The Metropolitan Police said it has received a number of reports from alleged victims as a result of the testimonies being shared and schools named on the website are being contacted to offer specialist support to victims.
What are the testimonies?
Each person on the website has their own horrifying story but many are of the same vein.
Some reveal they were raped but did not realise until later as they were too ashamed or part of a culture where that was normal.
Many say they were forced into sending nude pictures of themselves to boys at school who then spread them around.
Others reveal they were sexually assaulted at school, at parties, while drunk as teenagers and by middle-aged men in the street or at the swimming pool.
There are many accounts of being manipulated into not going to the police or of teachers turning a blind eye or ignoring continual assault, harassment and misogyny by boys at school.
One testimony told how dozens of boys at one London school were compiling albums of nude pictures of girls at the school and passing them around and when the teachers found out, the girls in the pictures were expelled or suspended but not the boys.
Who is behind Everyone’s Invited?
Soma Sara, a recent graduate from University College London, founded the website in June 2020.
She began sharing her personal experience of “rape culture” on Instagram and started receiving messages from others who felt her experiences strongly resonated with them.
Within a week, more than 300 people had shared their own stories with her, which she then anonymously shared on Instagram, reaching about 10,000 people.
Image: Soma Sara started Everyone’s Invited after revealing her experiences of ‘rape culture’
Ms Sara, 22, created Everyone’s Invited to help people share their stories to “reveal the urgent need to tackle these deeply entrenched patterns of abuse that exist all around us,” she says.
Model Meadow Walker, the daughter of the late actor Paul Walker, is a co-founder and adviser, and there is a whole team behind them dealing with social media to strategy and content writing.
What has the reaction been to the testimonies?
Headteachers, politicians and the police have all revealed their horror at the testimonies.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson has urged victims to go to someone they trust “whether that’s a family member or friend, a teacher, social worker, or the police”.
He has vowed to “take appropriate action” and said no school should “should ever be an environment where young people feel unsafe, let alone somewhere that sexual abuse can take place”.
Labour has called for an inquiry into the situation.
Image: Posters outside JAGS in South London say: ‘Don’t tell me how to dress: tell them’ and ‘educate your sons’
And Conservative MP Maria Miller, who oversaw a report into the issue in 2016, said it appears nothing has changed in the five years since the Women and Equalities Committee published its findings.
She said schools regulator Ofsted should carry out a “deep dive” to establish what is happening.
Simon Bailey, chief constable and lead officer for child protection for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, told The Times he was concerned a “culture of misogyny and sexual harassment” had not been challenged at some of the schools named.
He has urged parents to hand their own children to the police if they suspect them of sexual abuse.
The Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), which represents more than 100 top UK girls’ private schools, said it is referring some incidents to the police.
GSA chief executive Donna Stevens said the “deeply troubling” allegations “must not be ignored”.
Dulwich College, a private boys’ school in south London, is one of the main schools that has come under fire from pupils and ex-pupils at the nearby James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS).
The boys’ school says it is meeting with victims and holding an external investigation into any claims relating to its pupils.
Headmaster Dr Joe Spence said the behaviour that had been described was “distressing and entirely unacceptable”.
He added: “We condemn it unreservedly. Whilst I cannot comment on anonymous testimonies, any specific and evidenced allegations are being addressed, and we have involved external authorities to investigate where appropriate.”
Leading private boys’ boarding school Winchester College, which has not been named, is reportedly reconsidering introducing girls to its sixth form next year over concerns it will create a “toxic culture” following the abuse scandal.