Tag Archives: alcohol

The NHS and the blaming of rape victims


This poster was produced in 2006 and serves as one of many examples of institutionalized forms of ‘victim blaming’.

victim blaming

I was slightly horrified to see this poster re-circulating on social media this morning. It is yet another example of ‘victim blaming’ – the suggestion that a victim of rape was somehow at fault because of her behaviour. 

This poster becomes that bit more shocking when you spot that it is produced, published and distributed by our own government.

‘Victim blaming’ is one of those myths that I spend so much of my time trying to counter. Simply, a rape is never the victims fault – the blame always ultimately rests with those who put their penis inside someone without that other persons consent. 


Or, in the words of the NHS (in a separate campaign to the ‘Know your limits’ campaign):

“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.”

If the NHS did want to draw some connections between alcohol consumption and sexual assault though without slipping down this dangerous road of victim blaming, they could have made the exact same poster with the words:

“approximately one-half of all sexual assaults are committed by men who have been drinking alcohol.”

One study on alcohol and sexual assault concluded it’s literature review saying:

“Depending on the sample studied and the measures used, the estimates for alcohol use among perpetrators have ranged from 34 to 74 percent”. 

The same study estimates that at least 20 percent of American men report having perpetrated sexual assault and 5 percent report having committed rape. The obvious conclusion to this is that 10% of American men have committed sexual assault after they have been drinking.

This issue is a serious one that involves facing up to taboos as well as a very well funded drinks industry. Our safety, not just of girls, but all of us depends on tackling this. I don’t think it is hyperbole to say we are in midst of an unspoken epidemic.

Sadly this contribution from the NHS to the debate adds little but does reinforce an incredibly negative persistent perception that the victim is somehow to blame for being raped.


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Bill Bailey – alcohol is no joke

So Bill Bailey says that ‘alcohol is no joke’ (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/video/2010/jan/14/alcohol-comedians-no-joke )

The problem is, it is actually quite funny (not the people being hit by cars/stabbing people in the face/ending up with STI’s) but the good light-hearted time you have when you are “merry”.  For as long as government and campaigners paint a picture of alcohol that does not fit in with “normal people’s” perception, the negative side of alcohol consumption will seem like something distant and alien.

It was a bit like FRANK (the governments drugs advice agency) advert (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2008/dec/04/advertising-drugsandalcohol ) that has David Mitchell doing a voice over of a dog discovering cocaine.  Exceptionally funny (that’s a given because it’s David Mitchell), but equally almost guaranteed not to stop anyone from trying Cocaine. 

By painting a realistic picture of alcohol consumption (most people have a lovely trouble free time but some people have a horrible time or make themselves really ill), they fear being painted as not strict enough.  ‘Soft on alcohol’ (cue moral panic).

How can we ever get over this situation when all drug usage (including alcohol) is surrounded by such political hysteria (“I once tried cannabis as a young student”). 

The way the government approaches this issue just makes me want a pint!

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