With new cases of sexual assaults, domestic violence, harassment and rapes rising in the country and worldwide, the tendency to blame the victim of the crime (mostly women) rather than the perpetrator has also seen a steady rise.
Over the past months, there has been a number of high profile cases in the international media of violence against women that highlights the victim blaming culture that we live in. The most prominent case was of the Steubenville Ohio trial in which two male high school football players were found guilty of raping a sixteen-year old girl who was unable to give consent to sexual activity after drinking alcohol at a party.
Many individuals, both male and female, voiced their opinion and reacted to the trial and the guilty verdict by harshly blaming the young woman for being raped as she was drinking while underage. They declared that men’s innocence despite the evidence against them and blamed the victim.
Even a well renowned television new channel CNN’s reporting of the verdict gave an emphasis on the impact on the lives of the two found guilty, rather than the victim. Reporter Poppy Harlow stated” These two young men that had such promising futures….literally watched as they believed their life fell apart,” and Candy Crowley reported “What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape essentially?”
They failed to discuss the trauma, trust issues and other lasting effect on the young woman who was raped as if she was to blame.
A similar case took place when a Swiss woman was gang raped by a group of men while camping in India with her husband. The men robbed the couple, tied up and beat the man and gang raped the woman. During the course of investigation, the local police claimed that the tourists were at least partially to be blamed, as they failed to tell the police their whereabouts.
Within this culture of victim blaming, women are told to change their behavior in order to avoid being assaulted or raped. They are told to dress modestly, drink less alcohol, not to go to parties, not put themselves in risky situations and so much more.
This proliferates the belief that women are at fault when they are attacked and thus leads a lack of accountability for men.
Instead of teaching women what not to do, we should be focusing on men and teaching them about consent and morals and to hold them accountable.
While it’s important that women continue to be empowered and educated on how to prevent rape, this education needs to be extended to men as well. Men and women need to work together to change the culture of victim blaming and help reduce violence against women.