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Dating, Sex, and Sexual Harassment/Assault

Students are encouraged to be especially cognizant of practicing healthy and safe behaviors while abroad. Appropriate dating and practicing safer sex are no exceptions.

There are multiple factors to consider when deciding to engage in sexual or romantic relationships abroad. These include students protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections, their roles as responsible cultural and U-M ambassadors, avoiding pregnancy, and weighing the emotional aspects of engaging in sexual activity in a foreign country. This is especially true considering the potential for heightened emotions during a study abroad experience.

For these reasons, students are encouraged to restrict sexual activity or choose not to engage in sexual activity.

If a student does decide to engage in sexual activity, it is important to address sexual health. Sexual health is more than having protected sex. It is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.”

Students who choose to date or engage in sexual activity while abroad are advised to:

  • Make decisions that are respectful to others and themselves. Students should research and be aware of cultural norms for dating and sexual behavior in their location. Every culture approaches this topic differently, so it should not be assumed that norms in America are consistent with other countries.

  • Be aware of verbal and non-verbal communication that may be considered inappropriate or carry sexual connotations within the host culture, including the manner of dress and amount of personal space. 

  • Engage only in consensual sexual activity. Don’t rely on nonverbal cues for consent, such as behavior - make sure to ask clearly! Also, don’t seek consent from someone who is intoxicated, as they are not in a position to make an informed decision. It is considered sexual assault to engage in sexual activity with someone who is intoxicated.

  • Take the necessary precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancy or disease. All individuals should carry their own condoms. Students may have difficulty finding a reliable brand while abroad and should bring condoms from the US. UM Health Services provides students with free condoms

  • Individuals who take birth control for whatever reason should bring enough to last the duration of the study abroad period if possible. 

  • Avoid drinking alcohol and taking drugs, as these will limit the ability to make sound decisions and may put students at risk of sexual assault. 

Sexual Harassment and Assault

Sexual harassment and assault are serious and important issues to CGIS and U-M and can occur anywhere in the world. If a member of a study abroad program experiences sexual harassment or assault while abroad, they have access to resources both abroad and on-campus to support them.

Confidential Resources

Anyone desiring to have a confidential conversation about sexual assault or harassment abroad can contact the U-M Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) at their 24/7 crisis link, 734-936-3333, or their anonymous online chat. The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office is also available for one-off, crisis support at 734-764-8312. For medical assistance, connection to local clinics and hospitals, and counseling while abroad, U-M’s GeoBlue Insurance is a confidential option that will not charge a deductible for these services. 

Students are also urged to contact in-country program providers or university support services and can receive a list of sexual assault clinics and support services located around the world from CGIS by request (public version forthcoming).

Title IX

CGIS study abroad advisors and the CGIS Health & Safety Team are also available to students. However, students should know that CGIS staff are mandatory reporters under Title IX and must report incidents of sexual harassment and assault to the Title IX team. Learn more about this policy on this website. If you have any additional questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to also reach out to our Health & Safety Team.