‘Blaming the victims’ row over council ad

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WOMEN’S campaigners have reacted angrily to binge drinking campaign advert which they claim suggests women are to blame if they are sexually assaulted.

Calderdale Council has produced a zombie-themed poster which depicts a woman in a dishevelled state with bruised forehead and the warning: “When you drink too much you lose control and put yourself at risk.”

Campaigner Karen Ingala Smith, of women’s charity nia, said the poster shifted the responsibility for a sexual assault on to the victim’s behaviour.

“There is no other crime in which victim’s are made to take responsibility.

“I’ve yet to see a Christmas anti-drink-driving campaign telling people to stay indoors in case they get run over by a drunk driver.

“We know that the vast majority of rapes are not reported to the police, women are less likely to report rapes if they are made to feel that they are responsible.

“This allows rapists to continue to assault women. Calderdale Council’s campaign reinforces the excuses made by rapists as they attempt to discredit the women they rape and to justify their crime.

“The only ones being helped by the anti-rape campaign poster from Calderdale Council are rapists and the only ones who can stop rape are rapists.”

Two other council posts two feature men with warnings about drug driving and drink-related violence.

The council’s Cabinet member for economy and environment, Coun Barry Collins, said the images were not intended to cause offence.

“We have used images of both men and women to raise awareness of the impacts on anyone of taking drugs and drinking too much. The aim of the campaign is to expose as many people as possible to timely advice to enjoy a safe night out.”

The same images were used
last year, with no complaints, he said.

n The Rape Crisis freephone helpline is 0808 802 9999.