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Louis Theroux to combat sexual assault and consent myths in new documentary

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Kayleigh Dray
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Louis Theroux

The Night In Question will NOT shy away from the ongoing conversation around consent, sexual misconduct and #MeToo.

There are many misconceptions about sexual assault – one of the most common of which is the idea that the perpetrator is usually a stranger. While this can be the case, according to Rape Crisis England and Wales, approximately 90% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as in the case of intimate partner sexual violence or acquaintance rape.

Perpetrators of the latter might be a date, a classmate, a neighbour, a friend’s significant other. The list is endless and no matter the relationship to the attacker or previous sexual history, sexual assault is sexual assault. And things are no better in the United States. Indeed, according to researchers, there’s an epidemic sweeping American colleges with an estimated one in four students subjected to a serious sexual assault before they’ve graduated.

No wonder, then, that Louis Theroux has decided to make this the focus of his next documentary for the BBC.

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Under Title IX (the US law that prevents sex discrimination in any educational environment), colleges and universities are not only legally obligated to take every possible measure to prevent sexual assault on campus, but fairly and thoroughly investigate any allegations of sexual assault.

This means that a school must also take real steps to recognise an assault and ensure survivors receive the accommodations they need to safely and successfully continue their education. As such, a number of strict guidelines have been put in place at some of America’s top universities in order to prevent anyone from being assaulted (Ohio’s Antioch College demands that any touch – even shaking hands with someone – requires clear enthusiastic verbal permission).

And yet, as figures and high-profile cases have shown, the system is failing both men and women: campus assaults continue, and some argue that some have been punished for offences that wouldn’t rise to the level of criminal offence.

For his documentary – which is set to be titled The Night In Question – Theroux will interview victims of sexual assault about the current guidelines in place at US campuses, and the ongoing epidemic.

According to The Guardian, though, Theroux also intends to speak to those alleged perpetrators who feel their reputations have been smeared by “overreactions” and “blurred lines” around consent. And the documentary maker will also speak to the university officials whose job it is to sift through these allegations of assault that are made by students and make judgements on whether offences rise to the level of expulsion.

If you would like more information or support, visit Rape Crisis UK – or, alternatively, call 0808 802 9999 (usual opening times are noon–2.30pm and 7–9.30pm any day of the year and also between 3 - 5.30pm on weekdays).

The Night in Question doesn’t yet have a premiere date on BBC Two.

Image: BBC 

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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