Imagine if you will the following scenarios:
Your car has been stolen. The police, when registering this crime say the following to you; “why would you have such a shiny new car, it’s so polished and bright, you’re just asking to have it taken. Next time drive a grey, plain car. “
Your house has been burgled. The police on arrival ask “why would you live in such a house, with such big sparkling windows and such a lovely red front door? Next time, make sure you paint it grey. In fact can we recommend you avoid living in a house in this part of town at all, you’re asking to be burgled if you do.”
Your bank account is hacked and money taken. The online fraud squad ask “why did you choose such an unsafe way to manage your money. Why would you expose your funds to any online fraudsters to take advantage of you”.
Your store is shoplifted. The police say “why would you have such attractive items on display, you’re bound to be robbed if you so brazenly show off your valuable items for sale”.
Property, car theft, financial crime, shoplifting. These responses above clearly wouldn’t be what you would hear from the authorities. The immediate response would be to assign the blame to the burglar, the robber, the fraudster, the thief.
Imagine this: you are robbed of your dignity, your security, your peace of mind. You are physically, emotionally and mentally bruised, you are scarred. Your experience will leave its mark for a very, very long time – longer than many other crimes. In 90% of cases if given the right levels of support you could name your attacker, they will be known to you. But this particular crime will very probably go unpunished, 6% will result in a conviction. This particular crime will garner responses such as, “why didn’t you walk home in a group”? “How much had you had to drink”? “Why did you let him walk you home”? “Why didn’t you try harder to fight back”?
This particular crime has got a multitude of commentators and this particular crime has a nationwide jury sitting on a tabloid court ready to bang its gavel and declare you guilty just because you “wore a silly dress” or “threw up in the gutter”. This jury think that just being a woman means you must be forever “within control” of your appearance, behavior and location, for fear of inviting an attack from a man who must always be in a state of “ready-to-rape” for their blaming, harmful argument to work.
This jury has decided you are guilty by the time you have walked through your front door-either in or out of it. Because it’s who you are, what you wear, where you walk and what you consume that caused your attack, not the perpetrator of the crime.
This guilty until proven innocent view of victims of sexual assault and rape has to stop and has to stop now if we are to improve our woefully low conviction rates. It’s incumbant upon us ALL to champion “we believe you”. Society must change its view of the victims of these crimes before we can even begin to tackle the lack of accountability afforded to those who commit them.