Rochdale Abuse Special: Are Women’s Clothing An Invite To Assault?

As I watched the riveting drama on BBC ‘Three Girls’ I couldn’t help feel a mixture of anger, sadness and horror. Not only for the plight of those girls or how they were failed by public services but the attitude held by some that these girls brought it upon themselves. That they deserved it due to their backgrounds, clothing or behaviour. Such attitudes were a discernable factor that allowed the abuse to continue.

The notion that a woman’s clothing is directly proportional to assault is a global and obstinate belief. Yet look at the facts; men and women are victims of rape, including those who cover ‘their modesty’, from nuns to those wearing full Islamic attire such as the burkah. From soldiers to children. Anyone can be a victim regardless of clothing.

When a male victim is assaulted are questions asked what he was wearing, how he behaved to bring this upon himself, how many previous partners did he have? Yet anti-rape campaigns are directed to potential victims changing their dress and their behavior.

According toAn Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office in January 2013:

  • Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour.
  • 1 in 5 women aged 16 – 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16
  • Approximately 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence

These disturbing facts highlight the need for there to be a moral code for society to function, so that people can go about their daily lives without fear. We need guidelines which details how men and women interact with each other and their attitudes towards relationships. Daily stories of women globablly being assaulted and killed, teachers abusing pupils, children reporting historical abuse at the hands of celebrities and football coaches are increasingly a common occurrence … the problem is beyond a woman’s clothing.

We need to address rape culture rather than the victim. The attitude that boys will be boys, offensive locker room jokes, violence in movies and games that degrades the status of women; it all requires a much wider and intelligent discussion.

Today’s statistics are too frightening and furthermore unacceptable.