Rape is no joke….

I couldn’t resist responding to the awful tweet sent to and responded to by Merseyside police. The joke concerning the defeat of Sunderland over Everton at Goodison Park, Liverpool was reported as an ‘incident of rape’ to which Merseyside police replied, although confirming there had been no rape, that Sunderland ‘got caught with their pants down’. Following outraged tweets this twitter session has been deleted but not before the damage was done.

With public organisations, such as the police, joking about rape it shows every victim and the rest of society that those who are meant to protect us can make light of a serious crime. With people seeing others undermining the harmfulness of rape and using it as a topic of humour it is no wonder that large numbers of rape go unreported.  Insensitive comments like this say loud and clear that if you are a victim of rape or sexual assault you won’t be taken seriously. That we can’t rely on those who are meant to protect us and support us in our hardest times. Given the pervasiveness of these reactions its unsurprising that the number of rape convictions are less in comparison to other crimes (http://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php). Since when did major crimes become fair game? Why are we living in a society where the feelings of victims are disregarded?

This tweet comes a few months after Corbyn’s idea of segregated train carriages (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34059249); another topic that had me incensed. This idea to separate genders on trains was sparked in an effort to lessen sex offenses on public transport. Whilst its brilliant to see sexual crimes being addressed as a serious issue. And I applaud the government for seeking to take preventative action. I still wonder why we are punishing the victims not the perpetrators? Why does the prevailing message we receive about rape concern what we wear, what times of day we go out, whether we leave our drinks unattended etc.  Why, as females, are we instructed about what to wear in order to not attract negative male attention? We are told how to wear our hair, to always travel in groups, particularly at night. I understand the value of much of this advice. Taking well-lit streets at night. Never leaving your drink unguarded. This is valuable advice that we should all follow. But we are still focusing on potential victims, male or female. Why are we curtailing their freedoms? Why are we leaving the blame with them? Why are we bringing up our children hearing that if they wear certain clothes, go out alone, get tipsy or act a certain way they are ‘inviting’ rape.

Where are the parents bringing up their children to know that everyone’s body is their own? That it is never okay to take advantage no matter how someone dresses or acts. And most importantly, unless it is an ecstatic and enthusiastic yes, then it is always a no! Why aren’t we helping young people understand that one form of physical contact does not automatically mean more is forthcoming? Why don’t young people learn from us that ‘no’ isn’t playing hard to get or shy, it isn’t playing at all. Why are we failing our children by not teaching them that when it comes to sex no means no. This isn’t a concept they are unfamiliar with; in fact most of us would have heard it throughout our childhood. So, why do we continue to do this disservice to our young people? No means no in these situations. Full stop.

For an excellent video on consent click here for the Consent Tea video from Thames Valley Police and Blue Screen Studios.

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