MALE university and college students in the Capital have been called upon to act as “ambassadors” for a campaign aimed at tackling rape over the festive period.
“We Can Stop It” is designed to educate young men about changes in the law regarding sexual offences, while also changing attitudes towards rape and sexual assault.
While many previous anti-rape campaigns from various public bodies have been criticised for focusing on safety advice, rather than tackling the root causes of sexual violence, We Can Stop It is asking straight and gay men to consider their own behaviour and the role they can play in preventing rape.
Chief Superintendent Malcolm Graham, Lothian and Borders Police divisional commander for Edinburgh, said: “The success of the We Can Stop It campaign depends upon young men becoming ambassadors and sharing key ideas with their peers.
“I hope that the marketing materials and the information available on the specially-created website will go a long way to helping with this.”
Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Napier University have already come out in support of the campaign, which challenges a number of myths and misconceptions surrounding rape and sexual assault.
Three key ideas are that rape is far more common that is generally realised, that someone who is incapable through drink or drugs is incapable of consenting to sex, and that consent to sex can be withdrawn at any time.
Male rape has also been legally classified as such for the first time, with UK charity Mankind estimating three in every 20 men to be victims of sexual violence.
Campaign posters spelling out that sex without consent is rape have already been distributed around the city. The website also features testimonials from men who support the drive.
Greg, a risk technician and club promoter, commented: “By supporting the We Can Stop It campaign I want to make a difference – to get other men to think about their actions, attitude and behaviours.”
Lesley Johnston, chair of the Edinburgh Violence Against Women Partnership, said: “Sexual abuse can have a devastating impact upon victims and their wider families, and we strongly support this initiative and the activity the police are doing at Edinburgh University.”