Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blaming the victim

The idea that women are asking to be raped if they are a) young; b) attractive; c) not wearing a Burqa; d) not under the protection of a male guardian; or e) drunk is one of the nastier memes in our society, but fortunately seems to be in decline, being confined to NZ First supporters, fuddy-duddy judges, the police (as protectors and victimisers), and ALAC.

In the UK, it has force of law.

Since 1964, the UK has run a scheme to compensate the victims of crime. A clause in the empowering legislation allows compensation to be reduced if consumption of alcohol "contributed to the circumstances that gave rise to the injury". Naturally, they're applying this to rape victims:

In the past year 14 rape victims - 1% of rape-related applications - were told they would get less money because of alcohol consumption, the CICA confirmed.

One woman, who believes she was raped after having her drink spiked, told the Guardian it "felt like a slap in the face" when she read that the standard award of £11,000 would be reduced by 25% in her case, to £8,250.

"The evidence that we have shows that your excessive consumption of alcohol was a contributing factor in the incident," she was informed by the CICA.

This is the worst sort of victim-blaming, and its more befitting of Saudi Arabia than a modern western society. But I guess the problem is that western society really hasn't come far enough yet.