Government Warns Women That They’ll Get Raped When They’re Drunk

A petition has been launched to lobby Health Minister Jeremy Hunt to remove the victim-blaming posters...


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

When it comes to rape prevention, the authorities have a nasty habit of telling the potential victims how to behave, instead of warning off the people who are most likely to commit rape. We've seen it in Christmas party season posters from the likes of provincial police departments or tiny local councils, and now, unfortunately, we're seeing it from the National Health Service.

As part of their wider 'Alcohol: Know Your Limits' campaign to get young people aged 18-24 to cut down on binge drinking, the black and white poster features an image of a woman lying on the floor in distress, with the all-caps slogan: 'ONE IN THREE REPORTED RAPES HAPPENS WHEN THE VICTIM HAS BEEN DRINKING'.

We're guessing that this was meant to be one of the campaign's promised 'tailored messages around physical aggression for men and vulnerability for women', but to us, it reeks of blaming the victim for something that really isn't their fault. You should be allowed to get blind drunk without someone attacking you.

We're not the only ones bristling from the poster - which, incidentally, has a tagline that reminds us of actual satirical takes on British public service announcements – as a man named Jack May has set up a petition to lobby Jeremy Hunt – secretary of state for health – to remove the posters.

The petition, called 'NHS & Home Office: Remove all copies of this poster and stop victim blaming' has over 6,000 signatures so far and is seeking 7,500. In the blurb, Jack says the poster is 'a blatant and appalling case of the victim blaming by our own government, putting the onus on the victim rather than the perpetrator… two honourable intentions – to stop people drinking, and to stop rape happening – are being completely deformed.'

He adds: 'Of course we don't want people to drink so much they make themselves ill, but threatening them with rape by implication is not the way to do it.'

We totally agree, because if you look at statistics about where people are raped, who by and when, you could end up with some equally ridiculous messages. Considering that nine out of ten victims of rape are assaulted by someone they know, another poster could advise people to avoid all of their friends, colleagues or family. And should the Government take a look at the fact one in 20 children have been sexually abused and print posters telling them to move out or just avoid predators?

Logic appears to be absent, because it's not like drunkenness causes a rape: a rapist causes a rape. Maybe it's time for the Government to start dealing with them first. If rape was perhaps taken more seriously by the courts – for the 60,000-95,000 estimated rape victims a year, only 1,070 people are convicted – people might be put off committing it. Just a thought.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us