GMB union says stop blaming women

Most men are our allies and would welcome a positive move that would prevent us from being victims, calling out acts of misogyny where they see it.

16 March 2021

Isn’t it About Time we Stopped Blaming Women for the Crimes Being Committed Against Them?

Almost all women, know a woman who has been raped or sexually assaulted but how many men know a rapist/attacker? Could this be due to the fact that many are not reported by the victim, for fear of blame?

Data from the UN shows that 97% of young women have been sexually harassed.

In England and Wales, between 2019 and 2020 there were 1,439 rape convictions, out of 2,102 prosecutions. Police actually recorded 55,130 cases! That is about 53,000 cases, that could be potential victims who have given up hope, why?

Is it because they felt like they were being blamed, were they asked:

  • Were you out late at night?
  • Were you alone?
  • What were you wearing?
  • Were you drunk?
  • Did you or do you have a relationship with the attacker?
  • Did you say or do anything to encourage it?

Then there is always the real punch in the gut:

It could have been worse (like, it doesn’t matter what assault has just been committed on you, just be thankful and feel lucky that you are still alive?)

We have been told since we were children:

  • Don’t go out alone late at night
  • Wear bright clothing
  • Walk on a main road
  • Talk to someone on the phone
  • Change direction if you feel you are being followed
  • Go the long way round (no matter how far out of your way, you have to go)
  • And then as young adults.. Be careful with your drinks (don’t get spiked)

There is an article by Marion Fitzgerald, Criminology Professor. Her argument is that women account for about 1/3 of all murder victims and men are more likely to be murdered, therefore we shouldn’t panic.

This is such a ridiculous comment, women are less likely to be murdered because of all of the above, we are scared to be out late at night, we do take alternative routes, we don’t listen to music through headphones, we do try to travel in packs, we do talk loudly on our mobiles (even if there is no-ne on the line), and we do hold our keys in between our fingers, as our only defence (I am not actually sure how successful this method is, maybe a number of the murders of men, are women successfully defending themselves with a house key)

There are further studies which show a high percentage of men are murdered due to gang related violence and not from walking home from their friend’s houses!

Women should feel safe to walk the streets without fear of what ‘could’ happen!

The tragic case of Sarah Everard has reminded us that, even if we follow everything that we have been taught, there is still a possibility that bad things can happen, and not only that, we may get the blame for not following ‘the rules of being a woman’.

Met Commissioner ‘Cressida Dick’ released a statement saying that the news of the police officers arrest in connection with the murder sent shockwaves and anger through the force, then commented that it is their job to patrol the streets and protect people. However, there have also been reports that the police officer had already been arrested on a separate allegation of indecent exposure.

Surely the question is why did the met police allow him to serve in their police force, knowing this? If their duty is to protect us? Why do they allow the 1000’s of known predators and men of interest to walk the streets?

If we continue in this way (telling women how to stay safe) the problem is not being addressed, there needs to be a solution that actually works. Women are doing all they can to try and stay safe..

If men are to blame for these crimes, shouldn’t it be the men’s movements that are regulated?

Isn’t it About Time we Started Educating Boys on ‘the correct rules of being a man’?

A suggested 6pm curfew for men has caused outrage as people don’t think we should curtail the freedom and movement of all men based on a small minority of predators. Although a curfew is probably not the answer, it is interesting to note that if a woman is attacked late at night, the first question is why was she out alone at night?

This suggests that it may be deemed reasonable for women to curtail their movements, to protect themselves, but not for men to do the same.

We don’t know what the long term solution is, women asked for a curfew for men back in 1980 when Peter Sutcliffe was at large when again, women were chastised for going out alone at night.

The ‘Not all men’ response to recent events tells us that many men feel they are under suspicion, this does not help the cause as the majority of men would be horrified if they knew one of their colleagues was a perpetrator of violent crime against women.

Most men are our allies and would welcome a positive move that would prevent us from being victims, calling out acts of misogyny where they see it. Many men however don’t recognise there are simple steps they could take to make a woman feel safer. Not walking right behind a woman, maybe cross the road if they need to pass, be aware that as not all men are likely to attack women, unfortunately those that are don’t look any different to us and are not easily identified until it is too late.

We need to feel safe, in our homes, in our place of work, in the gym, outside and in, during day and night. When women are attacked we need to change the narrative from what could the woman have done differently to protect herself, to what can society do to stop men from attacking women?

Donna Albiston

member of The Regional Womens Network group

GMB union North West & Irish Region

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