That authorities, victim blame rape survivors isn’t something unheard of, but every time it happens, it does send out a very wrong message to the general population. Police and city councils in every country, state or city are responsible for protecting citizens and discouraging miscreants from resorting to sexual violence. However, every now and then, those who are supposed to look after our well-being end up blaming women for being raped.
From “Why were you wearing that?” to “Were you drunk?” the passive accusations survivors endure in name of inquiry shows how victim blaming plagues the society.
Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council in the UK are facing strong criticism for putting out Tweets which appeared to blame victims of sexual assault. In a series of now deleted tweets, people were urged to “step in” to prevent women from becoming vulnerable on nights out. According to Huffington Post, one of the original Tweets read: “She told her mates she’d had enough. The bar staff knew he shouldn’t have served her that last shot. Her mates should have gone outside with her. Shouldn’t have left her on her own in that state. Know when to step in.”
It’s right that @lpoolcouncil and @MerseyPolice have removed their victim blaming tweets.— Rachael O'Byrne (@rachael_obyrne) August 18, 2018
But I’m concerned about the attitudes and understanding of sexual violence that allowed the campaign to come to fruition in the first place.
Drinking is not a crime, rape is. pic.twitter.com/hiWtLwNU2N
Why is the society so afraid of putting the onus for sexual assaults on where it actually belongs?
Instead of asking people to “step in” to stop a sexual predator, they are being asked to “step in” to prevent a drunk woman from venturing out. This kind of outlook prevents accountability on the part of the perpetrators. The society is too busy policing everyone, but not the aggressive men.
- Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council in the UK are facing strong criticism for a campaign which blames victims for sexual assault.
- Why is the society so afraid of placing the blame of sexual assault where it actually lies?
- Must people “step in” to stop inebriated women from stepping out alone, or must they stop men from sexual preying on women?
How many times do we have to make it clear that drinking with friends, venturing out alone or wearing a short dress are not open invitations for predatory men to come and harm us. Besides, whether or not rape happens isn’t a decision for which women or a bartender or her friends are responsible. As Citysafe, Liverpool’s Community Safety Partnership has come to realise after the backlash.
“It was not our intention to blame anyone who has been subject to sexual assault, rape or any other crime,” they say in their official statement to apologise for the debacle. “The only person ever responsible for making the decision to rape is the perpetrator.”
Instead of raising awareness among people on how to intervene a woman who is inebriated or dressed “inappropriately” from stepping out alone, why not try to instill some sense in men?
It is high time to make it clear to them that women are not objects of sexual satisfaction. That all women have the right to do as they please, without having to worry about safety. The responsibility for correct behaviour lies with men too. Do not prey on women. "She was too sloshed or wearing that dress, or saying provocative things" are all excuses. They mustn’t deflect the blame from where it actually lies. The simple and stark truth is that “You decided to take advantage of a woman. You thought you were entitled to sexually assault her because she chose to wear that dress or have an extra drink. If you raped her, then it was your fault. It was you who should have intervened on your intentions.”
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.