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'One in six Oz female students are raped'

About one in six Australian female university students have been raped, and many more sexually assaulted or harassed, during their life, a survey released on Friday showed.

world Updated: Jun 10, 2011 11:10 IST

About one in six Australian female university students have been raped, and many more sexually assaulted or harassed, during their life, a survey released on Friday showed.

The findings were contained in a National Union of Students poll of more than 1,500 women studying at university. It found that 17% of respondents had been raped and 12% had experienced attempted rape, although the assaults did not necessarily occur while they were at university.

The union's women's officer Courtney Sloane said the online survey showed that violence against women was unacceptably high.

"Women at university tend to come from middle-class and upper middle-class social groups, and the survey shows they have experienced sexual assault, harassment, and obsessive behaviours at a high level," she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The study found that 67% of respondents had been through an unwanted sexual experience of some kind, with 31% saying they had had sex when they were, or had felt, unable to consent.

Some 17% of those who completed the survey between September 2010 and March 2011 said they had experienced stalker-like obsessive behaviour.

In most cases of sexual assault (56%) the offender was a friend or acquaintance, and in 22% of instances the woman knew the perpetrator intimately, it reported.

Rarely were the assaults investigated, with only two% of women taking the matter to police, mostly because they thought it was not serious enough to report.

The figures are above numbers obtained by a 2005 Australian Bureau of Statistics personal safety survey which found that 19% of women had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.

The NUS survey follows a 2009 scandal in which past and present students at the all-male residential college at Sydney University developed a Facebook page which described itself as "pro-rape, anti-consent".