Sussex police have recently published a sexual assault awareness poster (screenshot at end of post). After its publication critics came out in force stating that the poster shifts the blame onto victims.
I’m not sure I see their point. The poster is suggesting that friends stick together on nights out. That sounds eminently sensible to me, as you will see further down.
What strikes me though, is that they focused too specifically on one issue/gender.
The preventative measure they have given, is great advice for all crimes and all genders, surely?
I’ve been wittering on to anybody who wants to listen for many years about the fact that if you go out in a group then you should always stay together.
It doesn’t seem to matter which crime is perpetrated, you only need to watch Crimewatch to see that most violent attacks, murders et cetera seem to happen when someone is out alone at night. Often people have been out with their friends and got separated or just left the group to do something different.
Another very sad trend recently has been university students of both genders drowning in rivers after they became separated from their friends during a night out. It doesn’t matter how they became separated, it just matters that they did.
The subject of this poster was debated on The Wright Stuff yesterday and one of the panel, the much talented Shazia Mirza exclaimed “Do we really have to have a poster to point out ‘don’t leave a friend behind’?”
Unfortunately Shazia, it seems we do, as you will note from my previous points. We need to all take preventative measures to keep ourselves safe.
We have locks and alarms on our cars and houses as a preventative measure.
I (and I’m sure most others will) keep the front door locked. I ‘shouldn’t’ have to because other people know that it’s not right to enter another person’s house and either steal, damage, or attack.
I am also careful about where I use my mobile phone in public. Now, I know the phone is mine, and the clue for others would be that fact that it is in my possession, but sadly this isn’t always clear. Hence my vigilance.
Would the critics of the rape awareness poster be as critical of a poster suggesting we be careful when using our mobile phone? My impression of the poster was that it’s stating the obvious, but still needs to be reiterated, because far too many crimes are happening when people are out, alone, late at night. I never felt that anyone was being blamed, and I worry that the critics stifle debate about prevention. The fact that not enough rapes are reported is an entirely different issue, and should be looked at and dealt with swiftly, but I for one would prefer that we prevented it in the first place.