Stories of sexual assault shared on pink postcards after victims ‘silenced’
Stories of sexual assault were shared on pink postcards in Oxford this weekend in response to student victims being ‘silenced’.
Members of the public were invited to take part in a project about how victims of sexual assault face barriers to speaking out, writing their stories on postcards and putting them up on the Radcliffe Camera’s railings.
Student Natasha Lovel set up this initiative in response to the news an Oxford student who alleged she was violently raped by a fellow student was made to sign a non-disclosure agreement by her college.
This order has been described as a “blanket gagging clause”, a government-backed pledge on ending this practise in cases of sexual misconduct and bullying in universities.
Lady Margaret Hall College became the first Oxbridge college to sign this pledge on April 27, after being accused of threatening a victim of sexual assault with expulsion if they spoke out according to The Times newspaper.
The pledge is backed by MPs and campaign groups such as #cantbuymysilence.
The idea for the pink post card project came from discussions between Miss Lovel, who worked on a study into sexual harassment and violence at Oxford University, and Mexican artist Mónica Mayer.
Mayer first used pink slips of paper pegged to a clothesline to highlight stories of sexual assault in the 70s and her art project has since gone international, known as The Clothesline Project.
For the Oxford display, the pink postcards filled in by members of the public started with the prompts ‘I couldn’t speak out because…’ or ‘I did speak out but…’.
Donations were also collected for Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC), with members of the charity also at the Radcliffe Camera to highlight their work to members of the public.
OSARCC Developmental Manager Beki Osbourne said: “Tasha was quite keen there were people there who could support those sharing stories of sexual assault if needed.
“Although it was student-led we saw survivors of all ages, genders and backgrounds speaking out. Although it is a difficult topic, the event felt really positive.
“On the other hand, it’s really sad that we are still having to do this in 2022, and there’s a lot going on at the moment. I think in events like this its really helpful for people to channel their feelings like this.”
The charity offers anonymous listening services, support, counselling and advocacy among other services.
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