Sydney: 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 percent of respondents had been raped and 12 percent 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 percent of respondents had been through an unwanted sexual experience of some kind, with 31 percent saying they had had sex when they were, or had felt, unable to consent.
Some 17 percent 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 percent), the offender was a friend or acquaintance, and in 22 percent of instances the woman knew the perpetrator intimately, it reported.
Rarely were the assaults investigated, with only two percent 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 percent 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".