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SEK 40 million for research on violence, abuse and sexual harassment within academia

Sofia Strid

Sofia Strid, Associate Professor of Gender Studies

How common are violence, abuse and sexual harassment within higher education and research – and what can universities, staff and students do about it? Sofia Strid, Associate Professor of Gender Studies at Örebro University, is heading up a large new EU project, UNISAFE, examining the situation across 18 European countries.

“When we talk about gender-based violence, we’re not only talking about physical violence, but also sexual, verbal and digital abuse. It may involve you being hindered or controlled – it doesn’t automatically mean that you’ve been beaten physically,” says Sofia Strid.

This is a major project. With data being collected from 18 countries, the survey includes 450,000 individuals. As a first step, researchers will review what policies and legislation are in place within the field in all 27 EU countries, as well as in Serbia, Turkey, and the UK.

The project will look at seven aspects, using a model of 7 Ps: prevalence, prevention, protection, prosecution, provision of services, partnerships, and policy. It will also propose recommendations for combatting problems.

Preventive work

“We’re taking a holistic approach. The research is one important part. But translating the results into concrete tools, facilitating the adoption of new rules and regulations, as well as laying the foundation for preventive work are just as important.”

The project will also examine the situation for junior researchers moving between different countries.

“They are particularly vulnerable. Often, they don’t have a wide network of contacts in the new country and are very much dependent on their supervisor. What’s more, they often lack the benefit of employment security.”

Being part of the solution

Sofia Strid is also heading up The Centre for Violence Studies at Örebro University. Other researchers in the EU-project include Professor Liisa Husu, Senior Professor Jeff Hearn and Anne-Charlott Callerstig, PhD, all from the gender studies department at Örebro University, as well as Fredrik Bondestam, PhD and director of the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research at University of Gothenburg.

Sofia Strid coordinates and heads up the research while the administration of the project is coordinated by the European Science Foundation in France. The three-year project has nine participant organisations in as many countries and has been awarded SEK 40 million from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research programme.

“It’s exciting and cutting edge – doing the research but also being part of the solution,” concludes Sofia Strid.

Text: Linda Harradine
Translation: Charlotta Hambre-Knight
Photo: Örebro University