This topic came to my mind as I had a very weird but scarily realistic dream last night.
To cut a long story short in my dream I was sexually assaulted in some way and when I reported it to the police one of the first questions they asked me was “What were you wearing?”
In 2016 you would think we would assume it wasn’t the victim’s fault for what happened. Just because a girl is wearing revealing or provocative clothing doesn’t mean they deserve or were asking to be raped or sexually assaulted. The way a woman chooses to dress is never a cause of a sexual crime committed against her.
This kind of attitude gives men an excuse for their behaviour. And I am aware there are cases in which men are sexually assaulted by women but the majority of cases happen to be the other way round, with the majority of perpetrators being white males.
Another thing that happens to make it the woman’s fault if she gets sexually assaulted or raped is if she’s drunk. I mean she doesn’t have the mental capacity to say yes or no but apparently, that must mean it’s ok to take advantage of her.
The ironic thing is that all these views are held mainly by men.
In rape trials, women’s reputation is judged again and again. This gives the jurors the impression that the woman is dressed inappropriately and therefore to be blamed for the assault. As an example, there was a rape trial done in Ayrshire, South West Scotland in September of 2001. The victim was asked to show the jeans she was wearing when she got raped. This was to show that the jeans had been damaged in a way to suggest that she hadn’t consented and the male had got aggressive. However, the defence had asked her to state what the jeans had written on them, ‘Little Devil’. This caused public humiliation for the girl and the only purpose it served was for the defence to suggest that she had a reputation of being ‘that kind of a girl’.
Women are known as the ‘prey’ and that they are liable to be attacked at any given moment on the basis of how they dress. For some, this is just perfectly normal behaviour. I think this then reflects women’s position in today’s society at large.
Trails involving teenagers have also used clothing as a defence. Saying they looked their legal age and tried to dress older than they were. Therefore it was their fault for what happened. Defences have also included that they could tell that the teenager was sexually active due to the sort of clothing she was wearing. I would like to know how wearing slightly revealing clothes makes them automatically sexually active?
Approximately 30% of sexual abuse cases are actually reported to the authorities. Women and possibly men are embarrassed by the whole situation. To then be told you were asking for it and possibly even enjoyed it, makes the situation even worse. That also means 70% of cases the perpetrator gets away with the crime.
Victim blaming can cause a lot more problems; not only does the perpetrator normally have a lessened sentence but the victim can then suffer from mental problems after the incident. Such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression, in some severe cases, they go on to commit suicide.
I will finish this blog post with a short video for those who don’t know what consent is.