|Most Londoners Believe Rape Victims are to Blame|
A new survey, Wake up To Rape, was conducted by the Metropolitan police and the Havens (a collection of sexual assault referral centres in London). Where more than 1,000 Londoners attitudes were documented.
The results found that one in 10 respondents consider most claims of rape to be ‘probably false’, and more than half the female respondents think there are situations when the rape victim is to blame. If she had performed a sexual act on her attacker, more than 40% believed she should take some responsibility. Almost 20% think a rape victim is also to blame if she went back to the attacker's home.
The latter is an attitude that Linda, 30, understands. ‘I went back to his house,’ she says, ‘just like I used to after a night out. And I had been drinking, and I had slept with him willingly loads of times. That made me the type of woman who I used to think almost asked for it. How mad is that?’
‘I always blamed women for bringing rape on themselves,’ says Linda, ‘until it happened to me.’ The film-maker thought she knew what a rapist looked like. But he was nothing like the man who pinned her down, and anally raped her. ‘That man was my boyfriend, and I used to love him, so no, he did not fit my idea of a typical rapist.’
Julie Bindel explores the issue of blame in cases of rape in The Guardian, and finds that most people believe the victim is to blame or at least holds some of the responsibilities, which comes as a shock.
Furthermore, Elizabeth Harrison, manager of the Whitechapel Haven in east London, said she was shocked by the above results, she says, ‘The findings actually support an argument for vetting juries. Our survey suggests that, statistically speaking, the majority of jurors come into court with a bias against the rape victim before they hear any evidence.’
Dr Roxanne Agnew- Davies, a clinical psychologist and an expert on the effects of sexual violence ask ‘why do so many women blame rape victims’?
She says it can be a way to reassure themselves that this will not happen to them. She points out that it is not a surprise why so many rape victims blame themselves.
‘[Female jurors] can look at the woman in the witness stand and decide she has done something 'wrong' such as flirting or having a drink with the defendant. She can therefore reassure herself that rape won't happen to her as long as she does nothing similar.’
What is more shocking is; a quarter of women and almost a third of men do not consider a man forcing his partner to have sex as rape.
Today, alcohol also plays as significant a factor in blaming women and excusing men. Twenty five per cent of female respondents say they would not report being raped if they had been drinking excessively. The fact that so many men paint rape victims as liars has a profound knock-on effect on women.
With young women seemingly drinking more than ever, and the media saturated with images of near-naked females out on the lash, flashing their underwear while throwing up on the pavement, it would be easy for women to comfort themselves with the thought that if they stopped getting drunk, they wouldn't get raped. But it is not as simple as that, says Agnew-Davies. ‘It is easier and safer to blame the actions of the victims than to have to admit that there are more than a handful of men who chose to commit this crime.’
However, there is hope in the midst of this, as Kate Cook, a founder of Campaign to End Rape (CER) says, ‘Women are becoming more confident in reporting it,’ and as a result of feminists campaigning for the shame and stigma to be on the men who rape and not the women it happens to.
Moreover, it is clear that the reporting of a rape is vital, if the attacker has any chance of being punished for the crime. Though the general tendency of society to blame the victim makes a hard situation even more painful for the victim, it is still vital for them to stand up for themselves and bring about justice. Women must realise that no-matter how much they have had to drink, flirt or if they went to the attackers’ home; in the end no-body has the right to force themselves upon you.
Rape can happen in many ways, it is not just the act of somebody literally grabbing you and forcing intercourse. It can be done in a way to make the victim feel as if it was their fault through manipulation. Women must be aware of men who prey on women when they are already drunk, or are in vulnerable situations, from the obvious, of walking home alone, to the not so obvious; where women are emotionally upset or run down. Some people are able to spot vulnerable women, who are alone or upset and make them believe that the attacker is a friend. Then, subtly suggest sex for example.
In cases like these, it is important to remember, that no-matter how one got to the situation of being raped, it is not the victim’s fault. As the attacker is the perpetrator, they are the ones who actively try to influence someone else’ mind in order to fulfill their desires, or simply quench their desires even without trying to convince the victim; therefore it is not the victim’s fault if they fall for the attacker’s trap.