Bolton News Blames ‘binge drinking’ for sexual assaults
The Bolton News have a prime example of victim blaming in this article. Quotes from their article are in red.
We have copied some quotes to save you clicking onto their website & generating hits.
"What is being done to prevent teenage girls becoming sex crime victims"
Clearly the article is going to focus on young girls. They use the term 'people', but it seems they really mean girls & women.
And the Street Angel volunteers who spend their weekend nights making sure the young and vulnerable in Bolton town centre are safe say the blame lies firmly with one thing — binge drinking.
The issue of 'sex crimes' is not about alcohol. It is about men making an active choice to abuse someone who may, or may not, be in a vulnerable position. Girls and women who are sober are regularly assaulted. How does tackling 'binge drinking' support them?
“We find people who are missing their shoes, or have their clothes on back to front. Once we found a girl whose knickers were on the floor behind her as we tried to get her into a taxi. She did not know what day it was.”
Note this example is meant to be about 'people' - however the example they produce is specifically about a woman.
We are not against strategies that keep people safe when they are consuming alcohol.
We are against articles that suggest that victims and survivors of sexual assaults can reduce their risk by not drinking excessively.
We are against articles that make women and girls responsible for the behaviour of those who abuse them.
We are against articles that use the term 'sex crimes' when they mean rape and sexual assault.
We are against articles that may prevent victims and survivors reporting their rape or sexual assault for fear of being blamed.
The Bolton News - we are looking at organisations such as yours to do better. This is irresponsible reporting and we are holding you to account. We have tweeted this to @theboltonnews and emailed it to your newsdesk.
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Your response to our article:
shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how reporting works. At no point does our reporter express an opinion on what is or is not the cause of sexual assaults. What we have done is report what our local police force and a local charity believe is a problem (binge drinking) and what they are doing to resolve it. It has clearly generated a debate (look at the comments attached to the story on our website), which is exactly what a local newspaper should be doing – and highlighting an important issue, which is obviously one that you also feel strongly about.
It would help if you also read this story:
This is a fair and accurate report of what was said in a licensing hearing at Bolton Town Hall. You may disagree with what is being said. We may also disagree. This story simply reports what is said – The Bolton News’ function is to act as the eyes and ears of the public and to bring them news from meetings such as this. I am sure that you would agree that we have provided a valuable public service by bringing this issue to a wider audience.
Our latest story on this subject is about what is being done in Bolton to tackle binge drinking. The fact that some agencies (not The Bolton News) link binge drinking to sexual assaults is clearly relevant. If you disagree with this (as you clearly do), then please feel free to contact us, and we will consider a follow-up.
However, I must also point out that the headline on this article on your website is inaccurate and libelous.
Deputy news editor
The Bolton News
Many thanks for responding to us. We appreciate the objective of a local newspaper, and also understand that you are reporting (in this case) the issues around binge drinking. Our issue is this – the headline in your article questions what can be done to prevent teen girls becoming ‘sex crime victims’ and then you write about the issues of binge drinking. The implication is that binge drinking is *directly* related to the number of sexual assaults and the primary *cause* of sexual assaults. This is not the case.
Your article could have focused on the perpetrators of sexual assault and what your local organisations are doing to tackle this.
Your article could have investigated why men assault women and girls (whether they are drunk or sober).
Your article could have quoted your local Rape Crisis organisation.
Your article could have, and should have, stated that women and girls (whatever their state of dress or inebriation) are never responsible for assaults committed against them.
It seems to us that blaming the level of inebriation for the number of ‘sex crimes’ in a particular area is disengenous – at *best*.
We’re not sure what you mean by our headline being inaccurate and libelous. For us, your organisation, The Bolton News, has directly linked (blamed) binge drinking for an increase in sexual assaults in your area. We would appreciate further clarification of this, by email if that is more suitable to you?
We’d like to discuss an article around victim blaming and how journalists can be more responsible. You can contact us via email [email protected]
As a resident of Bolton and somebody who has been sexually assaulted in the past I began to read the original article with interest. The title of the piece suggested it would feature education of males or increasing the security levels around Bolton in order to prevent women being attacked.
The way the piece quickly dissolved into the Street Angels using being drunk as the reason that young girls are attacked was offensive, however, I hoped the journalist would go on to report the FACT that being drunk is not a cause of sexual assault; instead the piece continued to discuss drinking behaviour within the town. Although the piece then starts talking about people rather than the girls it started with through using only a female example of drunken behaviour the implication is clear.
I was pleased to see Mr Thorpe has replied. However, I find his response fails to address concerns about the article. The title informs the reader the piece will be about what is being done to prevent sex crime, the bulk of the article then talks about alcohol restrictions, this clearly links the two. The journalist herself may not give her view but by only providing this one ‘reason’ that women are assaulted it is highly irresponsible. The piece is neither balanced, nor factual, which is what I and indeed most of the public want from a newspaper.
I will certainly be getting in touch with others in attendance at the licensing hearing to see if this is actually their views. The fact the article makes no mention of this being purely one view onsexual assault is irresponsible at best and certainly leads the reader towards victim blaming.