I’m writing to you regarding a poster campaign that has been launched by South Wales Police and New Pathways. Specifically, regarding a poster – photograph of which can be found here: http://twitgoo.com/4r6vkp . The implication of this poster is that women are raped and/or sexually abused because they get drunk. This poster has made me very angry for the following reasons:
1) 1) It places the blame for rape crimes on the victims. Counsellors who deal with those who have experienced rape have to spend an awful lot of time persuading those people that what happened was not their fault. This poster suggests otherwise.
2) 2) t addresses the prospective victim of rape, rather than the perpetrator. Surely an advert campaign addressing prospective rapists would be more sensible?
3) 3) As a woman who has survived domestic sexual abuse, gone through counselling, and got on with my life making strengths out of the weaknesses my abuser exploited, I am personally offended and very angry about the tagline, “Don’t be a victim”. It discourages women from speaking out about their experiences. It is judgemental. It implies a criticism of raped women who ‘make a fuss’, and the whole poster suggests it was their fault to begin with.
I know that the phenomena of ‘slut walks’ have not made it to the Valleys yet, but I’m sure you must be aware of these movements (If not, I recommend reading up on it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SlutWalk ). The purpose of these protest marches is to stop people, specifically the authorities, laying blame for sex crimes on those who are worst affected by them. The protest is being held by women who are stronger for what they have experienced, who are sick of being judged for something through which they have suffered. This poster is contrary to everything such positive campaigns are attempting to achieve.
I am VERY surprised that an organisation like New Pathways is being affiliated with this campaign, and can only hope that they did not have any input into the design or message of the poster.
My personal recommendation would be to have these posters withdrawn, and to stop wasting money on counterproductive campaigns. I would rather see this money channelled into ensuring rape cases go through to conviction and court. Perhaps if we had a higher conviction rate, some men would think twice before ignoring the two little letters ‘NO’.
I will be circulating this picture to my colleagues, friends, family, twitter followers, and anyone else who might be interested in it, along with a copy of this letter. I hope you receive many more.