Cultural Views on Sexual Assault — Student Stories
Sexual Assault is a growing concern for many international students, and with this video you can learn all about
what Sexual Assault is and the importance concept of consent, how you can prevent an assault from happening and what
to do if one does occur.
If you are a school and would like to show this video as part of your student orientation, so that your students may
gain awareness of the issue of sexual assault, please
contact us for more information.
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How is sexual assault viewed in your country?
- In China, people won’t talk about such topics in public areas because it is really sensitive in
- Bolivia is a very conservative country. So, I would say that because of that, they view it like a
taboo. So, people don’t talk openly about it here.
I think a lot of people, when they hear about sexual harassment, sexual assault, they get a little
bit fidgety like that because it’s weird in some countries. Especially my country, it’s a taboo
thing to talk about sex.
In my home country, it’s not widely discussed but it’s sort of a general norm. So when people
discussed it here really openly I was fine with it, but I definitely saw some other people from
other parts of the world being a little bit uncomfortable with being so open about sex and being so
open about consent because that’s just not something you talk about in other cultures.
Coming from a culture where sexual assault puts a lot of blame on the woman. So, the thing is, how
do you help the women to protect themselves? Because at the end of the day, it is a society that
will think that maybe you just asked for it.
It’s a very harsh topic, you know, it’s something you usually treat like “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
Even, in the cases where girls had experiences like that, they would not even share it with their
friends or anyone, they would just keep it to themselves.
From my university, from my school, we only had a specific class talking about this, but it’s not
mandatory, it’s not orientation. I think because, for our culture, even though right now China is
more open and reformed, but still the traditions have a big influence, which is, we don’t talk that
kind of topic, anything associated with sex, associated with this thing, we don’t talk that directly
on the table.
In my country, people do not really talk about sex. So if you are girl and the other person is a
guy, so you both are in the same room and if people start talking about sex then you both will be
facing two sides of the walls or room or maybe, one of you will just walk out because people feel
awkward talking about sex in public.
How is consent viewed in your country?
Any news and any media coverage of things like this that was happening in my country, it was, kind
of, not very friendly with the victim. Any time we hear about a case that a woman is assaulted or
harassed or raped, anything like that, that instantly is followed by “because” and that “because”
means that the woman was a part of the reason that it happened. That was very different from before
I came here than after I was exposed to the whole concept of this is “consent”, this is “sexual
assault”, this is “your right” this is your “social support for it”.
There is actually a difference in the type of consent between here and back home, because consent
back home is marriage and here the consent is like getting into like an affair or relationship.
Because it’s a Muslim majority country, that have these rules about hijab, they have these rules
about clothing and stuff like that, they have a reason to say ohh, it’s because you wear those
clothes and you don’t cover your body, you get sexual harassment.
Before coming to the US, about sexual assault I didn’t know what it was. I was not actually exposed
to rules or procedures about it. In my school in Mexico, I didn’t get to learn about this or they
didn’t teach us what was wrong and what was right, at that time, it may have changed now. But before
coming to the US, it was just like a very vague thing, a very idea and now that I have moved to the
US, they actually taught me what was sexual assault, examples of it, what’s correct, what’s not
correct, what I should do and all of these little things.
The concept of consent in China, from my school, I don’t think they talked to us in any orientation
in public; however, I’m sure they put some regulations or policies, paperwork, something like that
for us. They expect us to read it but nobody reads it, no matter whether you are in china or here,
nobody really reads that.
What did you learn about consent and sexual assault in the USA?
I don’t remember much about the orientation, but the thing that has been beaten into my mind until
now is “consent”, “consent”, “consent”. That’s the word I never heard before I came here.
Like in my orientation, regarding sexual harassment, they came up and all of the parents went out.
They showed us these videos and these topics. It was really weird for me because we don’t have this
type of violence back home.
When I was first here and it was my orientation, so I was told that: no means no, which I just
understood being like a female, so If you don’t want to do anything with a person of another gender
then no one can force you.
I realized it was just a different ball game. There are a lot of details they have put in there that
we don’t put in my country, because the details that we have in my country are different.
- So it was really a relief that I knew that if something happened I was not alone and I have
somewhere to go. I can report it and they will help me
Sexual assault is sexual assault. It’s the same everywhere but I think how we warn our young people
is probably different from how the young people in America are equipped to deal with it.
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