Copies of a poster have been sighted on NHS premises as part of the Home Office’s ‘Know your limits’ campaign. The poster reads ”one in three reported rapes happens when the victim has been drinking” -- a blatant and appalling case of victim blaming by our own Government, putting the onus on the victim rather than the perpetrator.
I'm one of the lucky ones. I've never been raped or sexually assaulted, but I know so many who have -- friends, friends of friends, friends of family, and many others - and that's not okay. Like it or not, we live in a society with a rape culture. When horrible crimes like rape or sexual assault happen, those who suffer turn to what they see as trusted authorities -- the NHS for immediate help and the Home Office for justice. That's what makes this poster so hurtful. These two great national institutions betray the trust of the thousands of victims affected every year by blaming them for something they were in no way responsible for.
Two honourable intentions -- to stop people drinking, and to stop rape happening - are being completely deformed. Of course we don't want people to drink so much they make themselves ill, but threatening them with rape by implication is not the way to do it. Of course we don't want anyone to endure sexual assault and rape, but making them feel like it's their fault if they do, is so far out of order.
It is not consistent with the NHS' own guidelines on 'Help after rape and sexual assault' in which they say 'If you have been sexually assaulted, remember that it wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, where you were or whether you had been drinking. A sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator.' This is a much more helpful approach, and we ask the NHS and the Home Office to destroy this poster in all formats.
This poster is a horrible and unforgivable instance of victim blaming, and one that is totally unacceptable, especially when it originates from two supposedly reputable public services - the Home Office and the NHS. The existence of this poster tarnishes a well-intentioned campaign - the 'Alcohol: Know Your Limits' campaign - and is contradictory to the NHS' own advice on coping with rape or sexual assault (to be found here: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Sexualhealth/Pages/Sexualassault.aspx ) which gives the following advice: "If you have been sexually assaulted, remember that it wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, where you were or whether you had been drinking. A sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator."
This is a much more accurate and helpful message for victims and others, and I hope you can see that it is imperative that all copies of this poster (and official online links to it) are deleted or destroyed as soon as possible, so as to reinforce the NHS' own message that 'A sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator'. It may even be wise to produce a similar poster with details on how many perpetrators are drunk at the point of sexual assault as that would be much more informative and relevant information.
I very much look forward to seeing the NHS and the Home Office abandon victim blaming as an ideology as soon as possible by removing this abhorrent poster entirely.