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Monica Lennon MSP supports the fifth Write to End Violence Against Women Awards

Zero Tolerance is delighted to announce Monica Lennon as the latest MSP sponsor for its 2017 Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

The awards, which are now in their fifth year, celebrate excellence in journalism in violence against women reporting.

Monica Lennon MSP has pledged her support for the awards, run by Zero Tolerance and supported by organisations working to further gender equality. Since her election to the Scottish Parliament in 2016, Monica Lennon has been a vocal champion of women’s rights and has worked tirelessly to end period poverty in Scotland by pushing a universally accessible system of free sanitary products.

On why she is supporting this initiative to promote more responsible reporting of violence against women, Monica Lennon says: “It’s an honour to be sponsoring this year’s Write to End Violence Against Women Awards in the Scottish Parliament.

“I am passionate about improving women’s representation, and part of what it will take to achieve that means ensuring our media reflects women’s lives and voices.

“Write to End Violence Against Women is a unique opportunity to recognise some of the amazing writers and journalists who are committed to tackling gender stereotypes in their work, and I’m delighted to be working with Zero Tolerance to help raise awareness of the awards.”

Rachel Adamson, Zero Tolerance Co-director said, ““We are delighted that Monica Lennon, an MSP who has demonstrated such a strong commitment to challenging gender inequality, is supporting the Write to End Violence Against Women Awards. In the 25 years since Zero Tolerance started its work we have made demonstrable progress towards gender equality in Scotland.

However, we still have significant work to do, especially in demanding a media that does not trivialise and sensationalise violence against women. It is vital to our work that women in leadership roles speak out against a media that perpetuates harmful stereotypes and we are excited to work with Monica Lennon in promoting the awards.”

These awards are a unique opportunity to recognise professional journalists, writers and bloggers who are committed to challenging inequality and VAW in their work.

The awards event at the Scottish Parliament promises to be an exciting evening, attracting a mixed audience of people and will feature several other prominent women in Scottish political and media life in addition to Monica Lennon.

The public are encouraged to submit good (and bad for the Wooden Spoon) writing for consideration through the website.

Deadline for nominations is midnight on Sunday 1st October, 2017.

END

Notes for the editor

  1. The Write to End Violence Against Women Awards is organised by Zero Tolerance, a Scottish charity working to end men’s violence against women by promoting gender equality and by challenging attitudes which normalise violence and abuse. Find out more about Zero Tolerance on our website.
  2. The awards are supported by Engender, White Ribbon Scotland, Everyday Victim Blaming, Women 50:50, NUJ Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, Women for Independence and the Scottish Refugee Council
  3. The official media partner for the 2017 awards is the Sunday Herald.
  4. You can find out more about Monica Lennon’s work on ending period poverty on this website.
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The power of zero: how a bold Scotland-based campaign changed the world’s thinking about sexual violence – Sunday Herald article

On Thursday 29th June we hosted an afternoon of conversation at Glasgow Women’s Library in celebration of our 25th anniversary. We spoke about the original Zero Tolerance campaign in 1992, the impact it had and how Zero Tolerance can move forward to end violence against women.

Annie McLaughlin, the Write to End Violence Against Women bursary award winner, wrote about the event for the Sunday Herald. You can read the original article in the Sunday Herald here

Take a look at a social media round up of the event here.

The power of zero: how a bold Scotland-based campaign changed the world’s thinking about sexual violence

ON a dreich summer’s afternoon, a series of black and white photographs are projected onto a screen on the back wall of a Glasgow Women’s Library committee room. As women file in one by one, shaking out wet umbrellas and shrugging off raincoats, scenes of cosy domesticity slide by: an elderly woman in an armchair reads to a young girl; a woman reclines in front of a fireplace in an expensively furnished sitting room; three smiling teenage girls sitting cross-legged in a bedroom.

Were it not for the two lines of text accompanying each image, stark white on a black background, this could easily be an exhibition of treasured family portraits.

“From three to 93,” reads the caption on the photograph of the girl nestled in the crook of her grandmother’s arm, “women are raped.”

3-93 poster

“From three to ninety three, women are raped.” (Zero Tolerance poster, 1992)

In another scene, two small girls play on a rug, surrounded by toys. “By the time they reach 18,” reads the caption, “one of them will have been subjected to sexual abuse.” That statistic is as jarring today as when the image first appeared on billboards across Edinburgh a quarter-century ago.

18 sexual abuse

“By the time they reach eighteen, one of them will have been subjected to sexual abuse.” (Zero Tolerance poster, 1992)

This Glasgow Women’s Library gathering is being held to mark the 25th anniversary of Zero Tolerance’s groundbreaking 1992 campaign, in which the anti-violence against women charity’s dragged the issue of domestic violence out from behind closed doors and onto the streets of Scotland’s capital city.

In a radical departure from previous anti-domestic and sexual violence initiatives, which typically featured mocked up photographs of bruised female faces and placed the onus on women to protect themselves against rape, the project paired positive images of women and girls in everyday domestic settings with stark messaging and statistics on assault, murder and rape.

During the six-month campaign, Edinburgh was adorned with posters, billboards and banners which demanded that the public, politicians and the legal profession confront their own prejudices about men’s violence against women and take responsibility for eradicating it.

A quarter-century on, Aberdeen University psychology student Angus Milligan has just received a non-custodial sentence for assaulting and threatening his 18-year-old girlfriend, Emily Drouet, who later committed suicide.

In an interview with the Daily Record prior to Milligan’s sentencing, Emily’s mother Fiona Drouet said: “He slapped her if he decided she was lying about something. He would tell her one minute she was the most beautiful girl in the world and the next call her vicious and obscene names in text messages.”

Only after law student Emily’s death, she said, did the family discover the extent of the abuse she had suffered: “He isolated her from us, so that she would not tell us about the violence. He made her think that our love for her was conditional.”

The case is a tragic reminder that women of all ages and from all backgrounds are victims of partner violence, which can take many forms including emotional and psychological abuse.

When the Zero Tolerance campaign was originally conceived by Evelyn Gillan, Campaigns Officer for Edinburgh District Council Women’s Unit and her colleague Susan Hart, the belief that domestic abuse was something to be dealt with behind closed doors – a matter between man and wife – still held sway in many quarters.

Indeed, rape within marriage had only just been criminalised in England in 1991, when the House of Lords finally saw fit to abolish a 250-year old exemption that ruled it was impossible for a man to rape his wife.

In Scotland, the matter had been settled a mere two years earlier, when the then Lord Justice General, Lord Emslie, ruled for the first time that a man could be charged with raping his wife if the couple were still living together. While two other husbands had been charged with rape in the 1980s, both had been living separately from their wives at the time.

In the 1989 case, defence counsel Peter Vandore QC had graciously conceded: “I am not suggesting that there is any right in every married Scotsman to have sexual relations with his wife when he wants and whatever his wife’s feelings might be.”

He maintained, however, that “a wife has no absolute right to say no whenever she wants” and implored Lord Emslie to consider the court’s responsibility to protect the institution of marriage and the family unit, arguing that if “a charge of this nature is to be held relevant, it is more likely to break marriages than to help them in any way”.

The Zero Tolerance initiative was devised following a survey conducted by Edinburgh District Council’s Women’s Committee, led by Councillor Margaret McGregor, which revealed that safety was a major concern for women in the city.

Feminist historian and activist Lesley Orr says that Evelyn Gillan’s determination to force Scottish society to wake up to an inconvenient truth, birthed a revolution in attitudes.

In a tribute to Gillan following her death from gastric cancer at the age of 55 in 2015, Orr said: “It was Evelyn … who saw that the problem of women’s safety was actually a problem of men’s violence and abuse of power. She had the analysis, the determination and the boldness needed to cut the crap, name the issue and develop a groundbreaking strategy for progressive social change.”

Photographer Franki Raffles was recruited to create the images at the heart of the 1992 campaign, which aimed to drive home the message that women and girls from all walks of life could be subject to abuse.

Raffles died two years later aged just 39, and to mark the campaign’s 25th anniversary, Edinburgh-based photographer Alicia Bruce has been commissioned to create a new set of images which will build on Raffles’s original work.

Although Bruce was at primary school when the original Zero Tolerance initiative was launched, she says its imagery and branding had a huge impact on her. “I remember the original campaign so vividly,” she says. “It really shifted my mindset about things that were normalised that shouldn’t be. The branding was really strong, even the phrase ‘Zero Tolerance’, that fact that these things were completely unacceptable.”

The original campaign’s creators capitalised, quite literally, on their motto’s initials, putting the Z of Zero Tolerance front and centre in a huge font on the posters displayed prominently on Edinburgh pub walls, in bus shelters and on football stadium billboards.

“That Z was like a weapon that you could pick up to defend yourself with,” says Bruce. “It’s uncompromising as a letter, not curvy, not compliant.”

Despite the campaign’s far-reaching impact, the battle is far from won. “There have been dramatic changes to public attitudes around some aspects of men’s violence against women,” says Zero Tolerance co-director Liz Ely. “However, some forms of violence, targeted at groups such as women with learning disabilities, women in prostitution, LGBT and black and minority ethnic women remain poorly understood. We are thrilled to work with Alicia in creating new work which addresses this, and retains the bold and uncompromising message of the original campaign.”

None of the women involved in getting the original initiative off the ground predicted how its impact would reverberate, with local government and women’s groups across Britain and as far away as New York and Australia taking up the Zero Tolerance baton and running with it.

Ann Hamilton, who worked as Women’s Officer at Strathclyde Regional Council from 1989 to 1996 and later went on to head up the London-based Human Trafficking Foundation, calls the campaign “one of the most important things to happen in Scotland over the last 50 years”.

The campaign’s uncompromising nature touched a raw nerve in Scottish society, and the response was not universally welcoming, with some denouncing it as malevolently anti-male.

In a 1996 article in the journal Parliamentary Affairs, academic Fiona MacKay described some of the opposition, stating that “the SNP Lord Provost of Edinburgh complained to the Sunday Times Scotland that he did not support the ‘extreme’ campaign, but was powerless to act because ‘any word of criticism is seen as male chauvinism’. He later withdrew his comments. There were some angry phone-calls and letters to the local press accusing the campaign of the message that ‘all men are rapists’.”

It’s a charge that feminist campaigners today are still having to wearily rebut. Read below the line of any article in which a woman dares to describe her experience of gendered abuse and you’ll find a clutch of male commentators bemoaning their hurt feelings with the cry that “not all men” behave this way or claiming that in advocating for an end to men’s violence against women, campaigns such as Zero Tolerance wilfully neglect male victims of domestic abuse.

If nothing else, such responses serve to underline the work that still needs done to reinforce the message that gender-based violence is not a problem of individual men, but one of ingrained structural and societal gender inequality.

Writing last year for the Huffington Post, Women’s Aid Chief Executive Polly Neate said that “when we talk about violence against women, the response, ‘but all violence is wrong’, simply misses the point”.

To frame domestic abuse as “gender-neutral” is, she said, to ignore its causes, which are about “unequal power, and the sense of entitlement, the tools to abuse and the protection from censure that this inequality brings”.

“Nearly half of women killed in the UK are killed by an intimate partner or former partner,” she added. This compares with 6 per cent of men who are killed, she said, adding that “the overwhelming majority of victims of repeated patterns of coercion and control, are women”.

On the back of the extraordinary success of the original Zero Tolerance poster series, Evelyn Gillan co-founded the Zero Tolerance Charitable Trust, which established the three pillars of protection, survivor services for survivors and prevention as the cornerstone of work to eradicate violence against women and girls.

Throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, the charity continued to campaign for the recognition of gender-based violence. Disturbingly, research research conducted by the organisation in 1998 found that there was widespread tolerance among young people of the abuse of women. In a study of more than 2000 young people aged 14-21 in Glasgow, Manchester and Fife, it emerged that half of boys and one-third of girls thought that it was OK to hit a woman or force her to have sex in certain circumstances.

The response was the Respect programme, which provided resources to help teachers and youth workers explore messages about gender with young people and to teach respect in relationships.

Returning to the anniversary event in Glasgow Women’s Library, Lesley Orr speaks of the urgent need to protect the ground gained over the past 25 years, and the dangers of complacency. The internet – though invaluable as a campaigning tool – is also acknowledged to be widely used by abusers as a way to attack and control women, for example through stalking and revenge porn.

“While the political rhetoric around gender based violence has changed considerably,” says Orr, “where women are confronted in their every day lives with these issues, it is the same things which crop up again and again.”

Alicia Bruce hopes her work on the new Zero Tolerance campaign can have a similar impact to Franki Raffles’ original, iconic images.

“I want to look at a wider demographic and shine a light on different types of domestic violence, such as that affecting BME [black and minority ethnic] women, those with learning difficulties, people in care homes perhaps, but also young girls,” she says.

“We need to educate young people, that’s what I want to happen; I want young girls to feel empowered. There is a whole set of women that want to say something. I want to give them something to pin that to. I want to back them up.”

* Zero Tolerance’s 25th anniversary campaign will be launched later this year.

The Sunday Herald is the media partner of the Write to End Violence Against Women campaign and awards, which celebrate high-quality writing around the subject of violence against women. Annie McLaughlin was awarded a bursary by the campaign to write a series of articles for this newspaper.

Write to End Violence Against Women 2017 open for submissions

We are excited to announce that the fifth Write to End Violence Against Women Awards is open for submissions.

We invite you to submit your writing, or someone else’s writing, for consideration in the 2017 awards.

2017 marks the fifth year that the Write to End Violence Against Women Awards will take place. Unfortunately irresponsible media coverage which perpetuates myths about domestic abuse is still rife. We are lucky to have a rich pool of writing talent in Scotland and we want to celebrate the writers who have challenged the idea that violence against women is ever acceptable.

The Write to End Violence Against Women Awards has six separate award categories. Anyone may nominate their own writing, or an article written by someone else for any of the categories.

  • Best Article – news
  • Best Article – features
  • Best Article – student & youth
  • Best Blog or Comment piece
  • *New for 2017* – Creative writing
  • Wooden Spoon

To nominate or submit an entry, please submit via the website. Alternatively, entries can be submitted by email to submissions (at) writetoendvaw.com. The deadline for entries is midnight 30 September 2017.

What are we looking for? 

When reviewing submissions for The Write to End Violence Against Women Awards we will be looking for well written, original contributions to awareness raising of gender inequality or Violence Against Women (VAW).  We have written guidance on how best to achieve this in Handle With Care, our guide for journalists – download here. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your piece

What Happens Next

After the closing date a shortlist will be chosen. All shortlisted writers will be invited to the awards ceremony which will be held at the Scottish Parliament during the 16 Days of Action for The Elimination of Violence Against Women in December 2017.

Media representation of violence against women: why do the papers give celebrities a pass?

This blog is the fourth in a series in which Claire Simpson, PhD student at the University of Stirling discusses the results of her media monitoring project. Read her first, second and third blog here. Over the next few weeks we will publish blogs from Claire where she takes in an in depth look at some of the results of her study.

During my media monitoring I noticed several stories on Violence Against Women (VAW) involved a celebrity. The reporting on these incidents varied greatly between celebrity as perpetrator and celebrity as victim/survivor. Eight articles mentioned a celebrity: two as perpetrator and six as victim. All but one column were in the tabloids. This blog will examine the difference in representations of VAW dependent on the celebrity’s role.

Both stories where the celebrity was the culprit detailed Danny Dyer’s attempts at obtaining pornographic images from one of his fans. The two articles1+2 were front page news for The Sun as well as a double page spread inside. Dyer and the woman exchanged messages over Twitter where he sent her photos of his genitalia and “begged”1 the woman for sexually explicit photos and videos. There is no mention of what Dyer had asked of the woman on either front page3+4, they only refer to the images he sent her. The initial story includes a humorous headline written in cockney rhyming slang, mocking the way Dyer speaks1. Such headlines trivialise VAW and therefore downplay how serious and prevalent it is. The UN reports 10% of women in the EU have been subject to explicit or offensive messages or images via text, email or social media5

Claire blog 4.1

Headline from The Sun, 23 February 2017

Alongside this article is a photo of Dyer with the caption “Dyered and Emotional”1 suggesting his behaviour is a result of a poor mental state. Showing an image of the perpetrator appearing weak will generate sympathy for him and distract from the woman’s experience. The following day The Sun reported on the threatening messages Dyer’s daughter had sent to the woman2 There was also a column discussing concerns of Dyer developing a sex addiction6. This is used to justify his multiple affairs and the interaction with this fan. Sex addiction appears to be a popular justification for VAW by the Scottish press; it was mentioned in several reports of an alleged rape by a Navy sailor7-9. Linking Dyer’s mental health to his acts helps perpetuate myths about sexual violence being a result of uncontrollable urges and desires when it is the opposite.

“Not one story spoke to the woman, instead centring the column on the perpetrator, his thoughts and feelings.”

Stories on celebrity victims of VAW received significantly less column space than that of Dyer. All of the articles occupied less than half a page, one third had no by line and none qualified as front page news. The headlines of these stories in The Sun used alliteration, sensationalist language and terminology downplaying the seriousness of the violence for instance, referring to a stalker as a “pest”10. Not one story spoke to the woman instead centring the column on the perpetrator, his thoughts and feelings.

Four of the articles discussed the prosecution of Jemima Khan’s stalker with three of them mentioning the perpetrator’s statement that Khan “doth protest too much”10-12 and two where he calls her a “silly woman”10+11. The column in the Daily Mail included a statement implying the stalker’s medication for skin cancer influenced his behaviour11.

Claire blog 4.2

Daily Mail headline, 20 February 2017

These comments have a two-fold effect. They lessen the trauma and seriousness of the crime whilst portraying the man as mentally unstable thus perpetuating the fiction that those who commit VAW are not sane, rational, and therefore normal, men. Khan’s stalker was more than a “pest”. A pest is an irritant whereas stalking is much more than a simple nuisance, it is harassment and it is a crime. Ms Khan was subject to this unwanted attention for years causing her fear and distress. The sexual harassment Dyer inflicted was considered big news where he was the victim of an addiction and poor mental state but, in comparison, the harassment Khan suffered barely registers, at least according to the press.

Women’s experiences of violence need to be acknowledged. The justifications of such actions need to stop. All forms of VAW are serious crimes and they must be reported as such.

1. Dale, R., 2017. Danny Asked for Butcher’s at me Boat and Bottle.. then Whipped out his Brighton*. The Scottish Sun, 24 Feb. pp6+7
2. Dale, R., 2017. Dani’s Hairdryer. The Scottish Sun, 25 Feb. pp4+5
3. N.A., 2017. Dyer Sexted Me Pic of his Ender. The Scottish Sun, 24 Feb. p1
4. Dale, R., 2017. Sext Fan Fury of Dyer’s Girl. The Scottish Sun, 25 Feb, p1
5. UN Women., 2016. Facts and Figures: Ending Violence Against Women. [online] Available at: <http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures&gt; [Accessed 16/04/2017]
6. Wootton, D., 2017. Friends Fear Ender’s Becoming Sex Addict. The Scottish Sun, 25 Feb. p5
7. N.A., 2017. ‘Rapist Told Mum of Guilt’. Daily Mirror, 21 Feb. p4
8. Taylor, C-A., 2017. Sailor is Cleared of ‘Rape in Sleep’. The Scottish Sun, 23 Feb. p11
9. Camber, R., 2017. She was Asleep and Drunk…I had Sex with Her. Scottish Daily Mail, 21 Feb. p5
10. Mayer, C., 2017. Jem Pest Admits to Stalk Hell. The Scottish Sun, 21 Feb. p18
11. Camber, R., 2017. Jemima Khan ‘Doth Protest Too Much’ Says Stalker Who Tormented Her. Daily Mail, 21 Feb. p27
12. N.A., 2017. Socialite Stalker Guilty. The Times, 21 Feb. p4

The blame shame: why do we persist in holding victims partly responsible for sexual assault?

Annie McLaughlin is the winner of the 2016 Write to End Violence Against Women bursary. She will be writing articles for our media partner, the Sunday Herald, around the topics of violence against women and gender equality. Find out more about Annie here.

This article originally appeared on the Herald Scotland. Read it here.

WHAT makes the perfect rape victim? To most people such a question will seem abhorrent. Yet, despite decades of efforts to change antediluvian attitudes towards sexual assault, the myth persists that some survivors are worthier than others of our outrage, empathy and support.

The belief that a woman should ever be held accountable for an act of sexual violence against her is one that we in the West tend to comfortably attribute to aggressively patriarchal regimes such as that of Saudi Arabia, where women can be tried alongside their rapists for the crime of being in his vicinity in the first place.

Prick the surface of our society’s supposedly more enlightened attitudes towards gender equality however and an insidious sense that women somehow have a responsibility to prevent rape reveals itself, alongside preconceived notions of how a typical victim should behave before, during and after her assault.

New judicial directions have recently come into force in Scotland which aim to counter the still too commonly held belief that a woman who did not struggle against her attacker or immediately report it may be lying about what happened. This will involve judges (where relevant) giving juries clear, factual information to help explain that someone might not fight back during an attack, or tell anyone about what they have experienced straight away.

Controversy was stirred up recently by new Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why, both for its approach to the issue of teen suicide and its depictions of rape and sexual assault. One of the show’s female stars, however, has described her shock at the nature of some of the audience reaction to a scene in which her character, Jessica, is raped by her school’s football captain after she falls asleep at a party.

Alisha Boe said in an interview with news site Elite Daily that she initially presumed “everyone would sympathise with Jessica because of what she’s been through, to me that made the most sense. She’s a survivor and she’s been trying to deal with it and she’s acting out because of it”.

After reading comments from fans of the show online, though, she realised not everyone was sympathetic to Jessica’s plight.

“Basically, people [were] slut-shaming Jessica. [They were] calling her a bitch and … saying she deserved it … and shouldn’t be that drunk at a party and it made me take a second and step back and realize, wow, we as a society are not able to not blame the rape survivor.”

Such comments, however, will ring sickeningly true for many real-life victims of sexual assault who suffer with feelings of guilt after being attacked and feel unable to report or seek help for fear of others’ reactions.

When rape survivor Megan Clark waived her anonymity to speak to the BBC a few weeks ago, the interview made headlines. The 19-year-old was being interviewed by Victoria Derbyshire following the conviction of Ricardo Rodrigues-Fortes-Gomes for raping her in Manchester city-centre last July.

Gomes had attacked Clark by a canal path after meeting her in a Burger King when she was on the way home from a night out with friends. During the the TV interview, Clark said she wouldn’t have reported the attack, if evidence of it hadn’t been filmed by a witness who called the police.

When probed further, she said she’d be unlikely to report any subsequent attack to police if, in Derbyshire’s words, “God forbid” it were to happen again. “But you had been raped!” said Derbyshire.

Many of the BBC Two programme’s viewers will have shared Victoria Derbyshire’s astonishment. Why would the victim of such a horrific crime be reluctant to seek justice? And why, after seeing the man who raped her jailed, would she fail to report any future attack against her?

Government statistics state that, in fact, only around 15 per cent of those who experience sexual violence report to the police. (Of those, only around six per cent result in conviction.) Rape Crisis is clear that the decision on whether to report to the authorities can and should only be made by victims. The charity offers support to those affected by rape and sexual assault regardless of whether or not they choose to contact the police, and cites fear of not being believed as one of the most significant factors influencing people’s decision on whether or not to report sexual assault.

Megan Clark said she found giving evidence in court and watching footage of her rape to be “horrific”. She also said that immediately after the attack, she’d found it hard not to blame herself and that “a few people … put it down to my behaviour”. Had footage of the rape not existed, she said, the case “probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere … it’s just my word against theirs without [that] evidence”.

When Victoria Derbyshire’s interview with Clark hit the newspapers, headlines such as “Interview with rape survivor reveals impact of victim blaming” were conspicuous by their absence. Instead, most newspaper reports focused on Clark’s response to comments made by trial judge Lindsey Kushner QC, who warned that while women were “perfectly entitled to drink themselves into the ground… potential defendants to rape, gravitate towards girls who have been drinking”.

Kushner claimed that “a girl who is drunk is more likely to agree as they are more disinhibited [and] even if they don’t agree they are less likely to fight a man with evil intentions off” and rounded off her sentencing remarks by saying that “if push comes to shove, a girl who has been drunk is less likely to be believed than one who is sober at the time”.

The judge’s comments were condemned by campaign groups such as End Violence Against Women, as tantamount to victim-blaming, but when pressed by Victoria Derbyshire for a response to Kushner’s remarks, Megan Clark said that “she was absolutely right in what she said … she just simply said to be careful basically, which is smart advice. She wasn’t at all victim-blaming”.

Lindsey Kushner’s warning that a drunk rape victim would be less likely to be believed than a sober one was, Clark conceded, “not the way it should be but that’s the harsh reality”.

The Daily Mail landed on Megan Clark’s interpretation with an almost palpable sense of glee, announcing: “Manchester rape victim said drinking warning was right.”

This from a publication that, when recounting the attack in an earlier piece, had reported that Gomes “took [Clark] to a canal path and had sex with her”, carelessly appearing to reframe the rape as a consensual sexual encounter even after Clark’s attacker had been convicted and sentenced.

The Independent’s headline-writers went with, “Rape victim says judge was right to say she put herself in danger by being drunk”, while the Guardian’s opted for: “Woman who was raped backs judge over alcohol warning.” Other reports were largely variations on the same theme.

Clark is entitled to her comments, but the media’s response to them is part of an ongoing narrative that perpetuates myths about sexual violence which put barriers to justice in the way of women like her, and suggests that the blame for rape can sometimes be shared between victims and their abusers.

Overwhelmingly, the media narrative on the Megan Clark interview was one of an age-old debate over women’s culpability for rape. The verdict, it seemed, was in – sometimes it’s our own fault.

The Daily Mail’s Jan Moir praised the young woman’s response as “a drop of common sense in an ocean of outrage” and commended her “incredible bravery” in supposedly coming forward to support Judge Kushner.

Meanwhile, Kushner’s remarks echo those of another now retired judge, Mary Jane Mowat, who in 2014 said that rape conviction rates would “not improve until women stop getting so drunk”.

In an interview to mark her retirement, Mowat bemoaned the difficulties she claimed courts faced in dealing with accusations of rape and sexual assault where women who had been drinking had been unable to fully recall the details of alleged attacks.

It was left to sexual violence campaigners to point out that women who have been incapacitated through alcohol or drugs are incapable of consenting to sex and that, legally, responsibility lies with defendants to prove how they sought and received that consent, rather than on the alleged victim to recall every aspect of events.

Research shows in fact that, whether drunk or sober, victims of sexual assault are often unable to remember their attack in detail. Rather than an indication that a woman is lying or unsure about being attacked, misremembering details can be a direct consequence of being assaulted. A study from the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women in the US, for example, reported that victims might give inconsistent or untrue information when suffering from trauma.

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service, said in 2012 that it was in fact the perpetuation of myths about sexual violence rather than women’s inability to fully recall attacks that was responsible for the relatively high number of rape trial acquittals.

The 2014 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found that only 58 per cent of respondents felt that a woman who wore revealing clothing on a night out was “not at all to blame” for being raped. Some 60 per cent said the same of a woman who was very drunk. Around a quarter (23 per cent) agreed that “women often lie about being raped”.

In November last year, research for the European Commission revealed that 22 per cent of British respondents thought that “sexual intercourse without consent may be justified in certain situations”.

Potential scenarios included if the victim was intoxicated, had agreed to go home with someone, wore “revealing, provocative or sexy clothing”, or didn’t physically fight back.

When judges or newspapers commentators take the trouble to warn women of the dangers of making themselves vulnerable to sexual violence, they are often at pains to point out that they, of course, lay the blame for rape firmly at the door of rapists.

Taken to their nastily logical conclusion, however, such remarks frame sexual violence as something akin to dystopian fantasy franchise The Hunger Games, where women who make the “wrong” choices volunteer as tributes while the rest of us are spared.

Most women already modify their own behaviour in an effort to ensure their safety – walking down quiet streets with keys grasped between their knuckles, taking taxis short distances after dark, promising to text friends when they make it home. Yet rape still happens. And despite the persistence of the “stranger danger” stereotype, around 90 per cent of rapes are committed by someone the victim already knows.

When the media reported recently on new research into a form of sexual assault known as “stealthing” – when a man removes a condom during sex without his partner’s knowledge – some commentators saw fit to question whether it can be considered sexual assault at all, despite the fact it’s a clear violation of consent. Others suggested that it should be women’s responsibility to ensure that they protect themselves against it. A headline in The Sun contained a directive to women to “be on guard”, as if we should be able to automatically intuit which men are likely to violate us in this way.

Those who seek to shift some responsibility for preventing assaults onto women fail to see the contradiction in claiming that they are only trying to prevent sexual violence while simultaneously contributing to a narrative that supports its perpetration and discourages its disclosure.

While the myth persists that there is a way to stop rape other than to end some men’s sense of impunity and entitlement to commit it, women will indeed remain vulnerable in their homes, on the streets and in the courts.

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