Elite UK schools in spotlight over claims of misogyny, rape
LONDON (AP) — The London police department says it is investigating multiple alleged offenses described on a website that a young woman set up to expose cases of sexual harassment, assault and “rape culture” at schools across the U.K.
The Everyone’s Invited site was created last year by 22-year-old Soma Sara for students to anonymously report “misogyny, harassment, abuse and assault.” More than 5,800 accounts have been posted, and the site has sparked a public debate that has been called a “Me Too” moment for Britain’s schools.
The Metropolitan Police force said Saturday it was reviewing the site “to establish whether any victims of crime in London could be encouraged to report crimes to the police.”
The force said it had “received a number of reports of specific offenses” related to accounts put on the website.
Many of the allegations have dealt with private schools, including some of the country’s most elite educational institutions.
Detective Superintendent Mel Laremore, Scotland Yard’s lead officer for rape and sexual offenses, said that could be because state-run schools worked with the police force in a formal “safer schools network.”
“There isn’t a safer schools network within the private schools,” she told the BBC. At the same time, Laremore said she thinks the problem is “more widespread than private schools.”
She said more than 100 schools across Britain were cited on the website.
“We take all allegations of sexual assault very seriously,” Laremore said. “We understand the complex and varied reasons why many victim-survivors do not contact law enforcement, but I want to personally reassure anyone who needs our help that we are absolutely here for you.”
Students at Highgate School, a 456-year-old north London institution that charges fees of 21,600 pounds ($30,000) a year, staged a classroom walkout this week. The protest came after a dossier of more than 200 testimonies was sent to school governors, alleging that a “rape culture” was tolerated at Highgate, which was boys-only for centuries but became coeducational in 2004.
The school said in a statement that its governors were “horrified and deeply shocked” by the allegations and had appointed a retired judge, Anne Rafferty, to investigate.
The headmaster of Dulwich College, a prestigious boys’ private school in south London, said he had reported several students to police after allegations of sexual harassment were made by girls from nearby schools.