Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bad News from Britain

Two studies from Britain last week revealed some bad news for those of us hoping we'd put an end to blaming women for the violence used against them.

From the BBC: A majority of women believe some rape victims should take responsibility for what happened, a survey suggests.

Almost three quarters of the women who believed this said if a victim got into bed with the assailant before an attack they should accept some responsibility.

One-third blamed victims who had dressed provocatively or gone back to the attacker's house for a drink.

The survey of more than 1,000 people in London marked the 10th anniversary of the Haven service for rape victims.

More than half of those of both sexes questioned said there were some circumstances when a rape victim should accept responsibility for an attack.

The study found that women were less forgiving of the victim than men.

Of the women who believed some victims should take responsibility, 71% thought a person should accept responsibility when getting into bed with someone, compared with 57% of men.

Elizabeth Harrison from Haven said there was never an excuse for forcing a woman to do something she did not want to.

"Clearly, women are in a position where they need to take responsibility for themselves - but whatever you wear and whatever you do does not give somebody else the right to rape you.
Most of us don't want to face the possibility that we will be raped, or that our sister or mother or daughter will be raped, so we want to assume that rape victims did something wrong that allowed them to get raped: they wore a short skirt, they got drunk, they walked alone in the dark. If we admit that women are raped in their own homes, in cars, in family members' homes or in nursing homes while wearing sweat pants or long dresses or hospital gowns while sober or after being drugged then we have to admit that sexual assault can happen to us. And even women who supposedly did something wrong don't deserve to be raped.

This message is anti-male as well. The underlying message is that men cannot be trusted. All men are just rapists under the surface, and all it takes is a drunk girl in a short skirt to bring it out.

There are thousands of women who are raped across the world every day. Some are raped as a tactic of war. Some are raped by husbands who think they own their wife's (or wives') body. Some are raped by family members, by doctors, by johns, by friends. And a small percentage are raped by strangers. These are very different women with very different experiences. The one thing they share in common is that they were vulnerable in the presence of a rapist.

But because we are so quick to make excuses for rapists instead of facing our fear of being raped, it is a surprise that our children do the same?

Also from the BBC: A study of schoolchildren in Scotland has found that most of those questioned thought violence towards women was acceptable if there was a reason behind it.
The majority of the pupils said it was justified if the woman had an affair, or if she was late in making the tea.

The study by a researcher from Edinburgh Napier University also suggested that girls expect to curtail ambitions once they are married.

The research involved 89 primary seven children at five Glasgow primaries.

The 11 and 12-year-olds were questioned in depth about their attitudes and aspirations towards gender roles and behaviour.

They were asked to consider whether or not a man was justified in punching his partner when he found out she had had an affair.

Nearly all of the children thought that the woman deserved to be hit.

In another scenario, about 80% of the children said a man had cause to slap his partner because she did not have the dinner ready on time.

Researcher Nancy Lombard described the findings as "worrying" because the youngsters had naturalised and normalised violent behaviour.

She said: "The children didn't agree with violence, but gave reasons to try to justify it if the woman had done something 'wrong'. [emphasis ours]

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