How to REALLY Prevent RapePosted: 11 November 2011
Trigger warning: discussion of rape/sexual violence
This post is going to be really boring. I’m sorry. But apparently, we need to keep saying exactly the same thing, over and over again, because some people still don’t get it:
Women are not responsible for being raped.
That means that we can’t prevent rape by producing posters like this:
Neither of these posters will prevent one single rape from taking place. This is because women do not ‘cause’ rape by being drunk, walking home alone at night or dressing provocatively. Rapists cause rape. They choose to do it, because they want to and they think they’ll get away with it.
What these posters will achieve, though, is:
1) Making survivors of rape feel stupid and blame themselves. Any woman who has ever been raped when she happened to be drunk is now, on top of everything else, being officially told by Hertfordshire County Council and South Wales Police that it was Her Fault. It wasn’t. She chose to go out with friends, dance, drink and enjoy herself. Thousands of women do this happily every night. The only difference is that she just happened to come across a rapist. He chose to rape her. It really is all his fault.
2) Making women feel scared to go out. Restricting women’s freedom and taking away our choices about how we live our lives by telling us that if we go out at night and drink alcohol we are at risk of being raped and it will be our fault if we are. We are always at risk of being raped. It’s called being a woman in a patriarchal society.
3) Telling rapists that it’s OK to prey on drunk women or women on their own, because it’s their stupid fault for being drunk or alone in the first place. Reassuring them that even if it does get to court, they will get found not guilty or given a lenient sentence because everyone knows it was Her Fault Really.
4) Normalising male violence. Telling us that there are scary rapists out there, there’s nothing we can do about it, so women are the ones who need to take responsibility and change their behaviour to fit around the inevitable nasty rapists out there. Male sexual violence is not normal. Most men are not rapists. Every night, thousands of men come home and don’t rape their partners. Thousands of men walk past drunk women in miniskirts and fail to spontaneously rape them, because they aren’t rapists.
What would be really great would be if Herts County Council or South Wales Police had produced a poster that said “Rapists! We know that you are completely responsible for your actions. We know that you rape because you enjoy power and control over women. We find this disgusting. Society finds this disgusting. That’s why, whenever a woman reports a rape to the police, we believe her. That’s why, when you’re in court, there’s no point your lawyer coming out with pathetic victim-blaming excuses, because no-one will believe them. That’s why, if you ever rape a woman, you WILL go to prison.”
The conviction rate for rape in this country is 6.5%. 85% of rapes are never reported to the police. It would be great if they could produce a poster like that. But first, it would have to be true.
For support around sexual violence, the Rape Crisis national helpline is available on 0808 802 9999, open every day 12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm.