Debate General

Rape Culture: In the Netherlands

Written by Melike

1 in 10 female students in Dutch Universities (11%) have been raped, sexually penetrated against their will, during their studies at a University (Amnesty International, 2021). Shocking? Well, think about the fact that this doesn’t even include sexual assault, harassment or sexual violence. Unbelievable? Not really. A study by De Haas in 2012, showed that 33% of women and 8% of men indicated they had been subjected to sexual violence in the year prior to the survey. Disheartening? Extremely. 

Rape Culture – we despise it and don’t want to be a part of it, so it appears very far from our own environment. We believe that these things occur in circles far away from us. Unfortunately, I must burst that bubble because the problem is much closer than we might think or wish. One in 10 women aged 15 and over in the EU have experienced some form of sexual violence (Amnesty International, 2020). Clearly, it’s evident this also is a problem in the western world and not just an issue in developing countries.

Now you are probably feeling a bit hopeless and uneasy, however, I want you to use that feeling and take action. How? There are various ways we can contribute. First of all, let’s talk about the most important and obvious thing you can do: teach others about and ask for consent. This sounds pretty simple, right? It is! But there are also a lot of components that play into consent and asking content. This is also addressed in the #LetsTalkAboutYes campaign by Amnesty international. In Figure 1 below, you can see some of the aspects that are being discussed in this campaign that are related to consent and can create a more communicative and clear environment, since it is very important to be clear about these things so that there are no “blurred lines” regarding consent. Moreover, you can get involved in this movement by sharing your own experiences, signing petitions regarding rape laws and constantly informing yourself. Below, you can find a toolkit provided by amnesty international that will help engage with and start conversations about sexual consent and work towards abolishing rape culture.

An organization based in the Netherlands that especially deals with sexual violence prevention and transforming consent cultures at universities is called OurBodiesOurVoices. At OBOV, we organize events such as workshops at universities to teach about consent. If you want to learn more about the organization or get involved you can find the link and an email to contact below with the resources.

Finally, I want to introduce another problem in the Netherlands: upskirting is not being a punishable offense. As long as the offender does not publish the pictures he took, he is not held accountable even if there is proof of his actions. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, in order to change this law Florence Mbuyi, who had a personal experience regarding this, started a petition which you can find below. You can read more about her experience if you click on the link to the petition.

By now, it should be clear that rape culture is indeed a big issue with multiple dimensions, in the Netherlands. However, there are a variety of steps you can take to help abolish this culture and make the Netherlands a safer place for all of us. The more people work on actively being part of the process, the faster we can reach our goals and change these statistics.

Figure 1: #LetsTalkAboutYes by Amnesty International




References / Resources

Gender Equality Index | 2020 | Violence | Netherlands  European Institute for Gender Equality. Retrieved August 3, 2021, from

Haas, S. D., Berlo, W. V., Bakker, F., & Vanwesenbeeck, I. (2012). Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence in the Netherlands, the Risk of Revictimization and Pregnancy: Results From a National Population Survey. Violence and Victims, 27(4), 592–608.

11 procent studentes verkracht tijdens studie. (2021, June 14). Amnesty International.

R. (2021, June 9). One in 10 Dutch female students has been raped, new research shows. DutchNews.Nl.