Essex Police: Please withdraw your victim-blaming “Student Safety Campaign”
We're incredibly disappointed to see Essex Police's new 'safety campaign' which reinforces victim blaming myths whilst erasing the perpetrator's choices. The campaigns is aimed at college and university students during 'Freshers Week' - the first week for new students to get acquainted with the institution and those around them. It is usually accompanied by higher levels of alcohol consumption.
The advice on the campaign's website is gender-neutral. It is ostensibly about safety and personal property. However, 3 of the 4 the images which accompany the campaign are directed at women - and replicate the images of numerous police campaigns which focus on the victim rather than the perpetrator:
If only you had watched your drink, it would not have been spiked. Then you would not have been raped:
It requires women to change their behaviour and curtail their lives:
It tells women are sexually assaulted or raped that it is their fault for not behaving differently rather than telling men to stop raping.
It doesn't deal with the fact that majority of rapists are known to their victims: they are brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, flatmates & friends. For female university students, their rapist may very well be the 'friend' who offers to walk them home or the flatmate who spikes their drink.
We are rather surprised to see the poster below included considering the high-profile campaign, started by June Eric-Udorie, to have a similar poster withdrawn from a rape campaign by Sussex Police:
And whilst licensed cabs are safer than unlicensed vehicles, it does not make them without risk, as the John Worboys case makes abundantly clear.
Rape and other forms of sexual violence are endemic on college and university campuses and we need more public campaigns but these must focus on the actions of perpetrators. Posters which blame victims for doing/ not doing a specific activity help support rape culture. They erase the perpetrator's agency and choices, whilst holding a victim accountable.
We would like to see Essex Police remove the images above from their campaign and replace them with a campaign targeted at perpetrators:
We highly recommend this campaign from Devon & Cornwall Police:Download this post as PDF? Click here