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ANU working to shut down 'confessions' website

A screen shot from the ANU Confessions Facebook page.

A screen shot from the ANU Confessions Facebook page.

The Australian National University (ANU) will move to shut down a Facebook page bearing its name and containing graphic descriptions of sexual violence towards women.

But student advocates say the university should also take a public stand against the explicit posts and ensure that women feel safe on campus.

The Facebook page "ANU Confessions" was established last month and publishes anonymous stories submitted by users, encouraging them to "keep calm and 'fess up".

Some of the "confessions" on the page contain graphic references to sexual violence against women, including one recent post detailing a rape fantasy, that has attracted the scorn of visitors to the Facebook page.

Another details an alleged domestic violence incident, with the writer defending their actions in a lengthy post about the alleged scenario.

The Facebook page is not affiliated with the ANU and a spokeswoman said the university was taking steps to have the page torn down for "breach of copyright".

"We’re approaching Facebook about the inappropriate use of our name," she said.

"We don’t condone any offensive material and we have very clear guidelines for our students that set out what is acceptable use of social media."

The ANU Students’ Association said there had been several complaints about the page since it appeared last month.

Women’s Officer Beth Ritchie said she was contacting Facebook to demand the posts be taken down.

"The moderator who is choosing to put this material up – if they think it’s a joke, what they are doing is catering to a culture where this kind of hate is endorsed," she said.

"That is really upsetting."

Ms Ritchie said she also wanted the university to work with the students’ association to ensure proper support and protection services were available to women on the campus and encouraged any women in crisis to contact Canberra’s crisis centres and the police.

ACT Women’s Legal Centre convenor Louise Taylor said the posts were "disgusting".

"Sadly, none of it shocks me," she said.

"I’d imagine they [ANU] would be highly concerned by the use of their name in the peddling of these views.

"It seems to me there’s an opportunity for some student education on ANU’s behalf and to promote that ANU is a haven of support."

Domestic Violence Crisis Service: 02 6280 0900 (24 hours)

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre: 02 6247 2525 (from 7am-11pm)

1800RESPECT hotline and website www.1800respect.org.au provides counselling for victims of family and domestic violence and sexual assault. 

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