Assault Stereotyping and Victim Blaming

By Sophie Condron

Thursday, December 4, 2014

All around the world, assaulted women are judged for their behavior. When alcohol and drugs are involved or a woman is wearing suggestive clothing, some people immediately conclude that the assault is the woman’s fault. No one asks to be assaulted,  and, for this reason, this stereotype needs to end.

In the case of an assault on a woman, people usually wonder if drugs and alcohol were involved or if the woman was wearing provocative clothing. The use of drugs and alcohol do affect a woman’s behavior, but it does not give the public a reason to blame the woman if she is assaulted.

On September 13, 2014, Hannah Graham, a University of Virginia student, was abducted from the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, Virginia and later found dead. Critics said Graham provoked this assault due to her alcohol intake and clothing.

Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said in a quote made to Cavalier Daily, “We have reason to believe that she may have been under the influence of alcohol. [This] suggests the fact that she was vulnerable, that she may not have been in a position to protect herself … or in a position to make good decisions.”

Longo goes on to say that, “While we have information in regard [to her alcohol consumption], we put that out there for investigative reasons, and I just find it unfortunate that folks are latching on to that and speaking poorly of this young lady’s character.”

Hannah Graham in no way provoked this attack. When these details regarding Hannah’s physical state and clothing were released to the public, Longo did not intend for people to criticize her. Attackers and rapists are solely responsible for assaults.

In another assault case in Nairobi, Kenya on November 18th, 2014, protests were held to advocate for the woman who was publicly stripped naked by men for wearing “indecent” clothing. The men felt that the woman was tempting them with her “immodest” dress. For this, they beat and stripped her of her clothes. Nobody deserves to be violated, especially based on clothing.

Every human deserves to be safe. We should focus on changing societal attitudes on assault victims. The attacker or rapist is always to blame. The safety of people should not depend on their physical state or clothing.

Categories: Opinion

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