The above post has been making the rounds on Tumblr and, more recently, on Twitter. It makes some very valid points about the tendency of our cutlure to blame the victims, rather than the perpetrators, of sexual assault. “She was wearing a short skirt.” “She was drunk.” “She was walking alone in the dark.” “She enjoyed it.” “She wanted it.” “It was her fault.” Victim blaming is one of the biggest obstacles to tackling violence against women, it’s hugely damaging to those who have experienced sexual assault, it’s a major factor in the appallingly low conviction rates for rape, it needs calling out and, frankly, it needs to die in a fire. And yet, something about this post makes me extremely uncomfortable.
Here’s the thing: Some people don’t seem to have read the headline the comments are referring to; some seem to have thought it was made up. It isn’t. It’s a true story. Somewhere in India, there is a woman who was raped; who was subsequently so badly let down by the justice system that she felt this was her only option; and who now will presumably go to jail (or possibly has already gone to jail) for murder. No matter how valid the political points about victim blaming, I feel it is in incredibly poor taste to score them in this particular way off the back of this particular tragedy.
By all means, challenge victim blaming. Challenge the criminal justice system which treats victims like suspects and sees only a handful of cases end in conviction. Campaign, and educate, and do everything in your power to make violence against women history. But do also show respect for the survivors; their stories; their lives. Do not (even in anger – as I suspect the original posts were made) make light of this.