Image above: Everyone’s Invited website – some of the team
West London schools have featured with alarming regularity in the reports of sexual abuse in schools which have come out in the past few weeks.
The Times reported on Monday that there were now some 13,700 former pupils who had come forward with allegations against fellow students and also some teachers after girls and women started sharing their experiences in the wake of Sarah Everard’s death.
‘Staff are accused of groping female pupils, making sexual comments towards them and masturbating during classes in 20 claims made at schools across London and in Bedfordshire on the Everyone’s Invited website’ the Times reports.
Times reporters Arthi Nachiappan and Ryan Watts wrote:
‘Analysis by The Times found that five entries on the website accused staff at Latymer Upper School, three accused staff at St Benedict’s School, and two at Notting Hill and Ealing High School, all in west London.
‘A spokesman for Notting Hill and Ealing High School said it was aware of allegations about a staff member but could not comment on an individual case. The spokesman said:
“We always take any concerns girls raise very seriously, and investigate thoroughly, with guidance taken from relevant authorities where appropriate.”
‘Latymer Upper and St Benedict’s School were approached for comment’.
Image above: Latymer Upper School; photograph N Chadwick
Latymer Upper School has been named more times than any other school on Everyone’s Invited. In response to an earlier story the school said had recently contacted students and alumni to offer support. A statement from the school said that it was:
“listening carefully to our community and reflecting on what further steps we should take.
“All staff at the school complete regular safeguarding training and we take any report or allegation made by a member of our community extremely seriously.
“We have a zero-tolerance approach to behaviours that foster the prevalence of misogyny, sexism, harassment, abuse and assault”.
The Everyone’s Invited website has pages and pages of accounts from students at schools and universities, which range from child rape to students feeling uncomfortable about peer pressure or unwanted comments. There are allegations of sexualised encounters and unsolicited sexual approaches from students at St Benedict’s in Ealing, JFS in Harrow, Westminster, Ibstock Place School in Roehampton, Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith and St Paul’s Girl’s & Boys amongst many schools mentioned.
It’s not clear in many of the cases whether what they’re describing went on in school or off the premises and whether it was with the knowledge of the staff or not. But there are a number of accounts which describe behaviour happening in school which should have been picked up and acted on by staff or where schools were asked to tackle the behaviour and attitudes of boys towards girls and failed to do anything.
Image above: St Benedict’s school; Notting Hill & Ealing High School
“I stopped going into school and I stopped doing my work as a result of what I was going through”
This is one girl’s experience of being at school:
“Had a male teacher measure my skirt with a ruler up my inner leg to see if it was too short. As well as numerous times boys hiding your belongs down their trousers and focusing you to feel them up. They would wank off in class or just expose them self to you.”
This from another:
“My ex raped me and when I went to the safeguarding at my school to help with him following me and making me extremely uncomfortable they did nothing to help as I didn’t file a police report.
“On top of this they never followed up and checked in. So, when I stopped going into school and I stopped doing my work as a result of what I was going through I was told off instead of being offered support.”
“I was distraught and sent an angry email to the headmaster”
This account from a student at West London Free School is from a girl who says she specifically asked for her school to educate boys about their attitudes to girls:
‘On international women’s day … the school hadn’t uttered a word in assembly or in any lesson about the significance of the day and so our female English teacher decided to dedicate our lesson to discussing it.
‘She said how upset she was that the school hadn’t made an assembly and that it let down all the girls in the school. Our class only had 4 boys in it and around 15-20 girls. By the end of this lesson many of the girls were crying. Our teacher had put on an amazing TED talk where a woman had shared a rape testimony and the girls had all been amazed by it.
‘However the atmosphere very quickly changed when the four boys began talking openly (in front of our teacher!) about how a girl deserved to be raped or assaulted if she wore a short skirt.
‘I was distraught and sent an angry email to the headmaster including other stories I had about how sexist the school was and how it was allowing misogyny and rape culture to grow amongst the boys. They promised me they would make sure the boys received an educational assembly about respecting women and consent, but this never happened.’
Image above: Everyone’s Invited website – more of the team
A commitment to eradicating rape culture
The outpouring of shared experiences of women and girls about sexual abuse is not limited to this one website. It was all over social media in the days following the violent death of Sarah Everard and the vigil on Clapham Common.
Everyone’s Invited was set up by CEO Soma Sara in 2020. She began sharing her own experinece of rape culture on Instagram and was quickly overwhelmed with responses
“from not only those who strongly resonated with her experiences but those who began sharing their own stories of harassment, abuse and assault”.
Everyone’s Invited describe themselves as a movement committed to eradicating rape culture:
‘Rape culture exists when thoughts, behaviours, & attitudes in a society or environment have the effect of normalising and trivialising sexual violence.
‘When behaviours like ‘upskirting’ or the nonconsensual sharing of intimate photos are normalised this acts as a gateway to criminal acts such as sexual assault and rape.
‘Behaviours such as misogyny, slut shaming, victim blaming, and sexual harassment create an environment where sexual violence and abuse can exist and thrive. All behaviours, attitudes, thoughts and experiences in this culture are interconnected’.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Doorstep vigil for Sarah Everard
See also: Debate on women’s safety
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