When are we going to stop blaming the victim for the heinous crimes committed against them? But before we stop, can someone tell me when did society deem it acceptable in the first place?
These questions are posed after seeing recent media reports on the string of sexual assaults against women in New York City. Since spring, there have been eleven reported sexual assaults against women. Police believe three different male sexual predators are responsible for these incidents; all of which have yet to be apprehended. Since the occurrence of these assaults, police have implemented some preventional methods to decrease crime within the area. These methods include the police department releasing information on the crimes such as sketches of the three suspects, videos of the assaults, as well as an increase of police presence in the crime areas.
But is this enough? Are the police department’s means really justifying their ends when they make derogatory comments and take insensitive actions toward the targeted women they are supposed to protect? Safe Slope, an organization adapted after the attack in Park Slope, reports police officers acting insensitive by following women at night without announcing their presence. They then make their presence known by sneaking up on these unsuspecting women and showing them explicit and violent video footage of sexual attacks. This, understandably, causes the women to be fearful and have increased levels of anxiety. After the first set of incidents occurred in New York City, the Wall Street Journal reports police officers telling women not to wear shorts or skirts because they (the women) make themselves a target. The full article can be read at
All of these imperceptive acts on behalf of the New York City police officers occurred after Toronto police officer tells a seminar of women not to dress like ‘sluts’ and they will not get raped. The following YouTube clip describes in full detail as to what the Toronto police officer stated starting from minute 1:10.
I am completely appalled and disgusted at the comments and actions of these officers. These officers are sworn to protect the community and it’s inhabitants. In situations in which an individual feels threatened or victimized, the police department should be the first place that the individual should go to without second thought. The individual should not be hesitant, reluctant, or feel ashamed to go to the police out of fear they would be blamed in some way for the crime committed against them. What these officers, both in New York City and Toronto, are doing is victim- blaming. They are finding faults in the victim’s behavior, in this case appearance, that may have provoked the crime. Instead of putting all of the responsibility of the crime on the perpetrator, they are finding faults in the victim’s actions. In criminal cases such as rape or sexual assault, victim-blaming is never the answer. Victim-blaming does not equate to prevention either. Women, and just people in general, have a civil right to wear what they want, when they want, and however they want. And if a person decides to do this, that does not mean they are asking to be raped. In my twenty plus years, I have never came across a person, regardless of gender, that has asked to be raped. The officers telling women not to wear skirts or shorts, let alone not to dress like a ‘slut’, not only trivializes the crime but it is disrespectful and also serves to marginalize women. And when a group of people are marginalized, this leads to further victimization. For those who may still have doubts, let us look back at history at similar situations, with the same concept, just with different peoples. African Americans were marginalized. Did they ask to be slaves? Jewish people were marginalized. Did they ask to be apart of the Holocaust? Native Americans were also marginalized but I’m sure they did not ask to participate in the Trail of Tears. I cannot stress and emphasize this enough: Marginalization of a group of people leads to discrimination and further victimization.
Rape should not be and is not dependent on the attire that one is wearing. Unfortunately, rape happens to people of all ages, from children to the elderly. And there is a high probability that not all of these victims were wearing shorts, skirts, or anything revealing for that matter. I believe that the suspects should be held accountable for their crime, of course. I also believe that these officers should also be held accountable and reprimanded for their insensitive comments and actions. They should also take a sensitivity class. People have a personal right to make their own choice about their sexual acquiescence regardless of appearance or perceived behavior. The bottom line: No means no and should not be dependent on any confounding factors.