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Victim blaming

Kelly Brook is facing criticism for comments made on yesterday's Loose Women.

The model suggested that women who are 'silly drunk' place themselves in danger of being attacked by taxi drivers and members of the public. 

Her statements have been accused of victim blaming. 

'If you're drunk, if you've had a few drinks, you're so vulnerable, your guard is down, you just want to get home, and I think lots of young girls put themselves in that situation, and I just think if you are in that situation, just call somebody,' she said. 

'Don't get in a cab, don't get on a train – you could get attacked on a train, walking home.'

When asked if Kelly herself would get a taxi home after a night out (as her brother is studying to be a taxi driver), Brook replied: 'Well, I wouldn't go out and get silly drunk.'

'You're in a very vulnerable state, it's late at night, you've had a few drinks, you are just a target for anyone who is going to do that,' she continued, according to The Sun. 

'Whether it is a taxi driver – I'm not just blaming taxi drivers – it can be someone else on a night out, you are just vulnerable.'

 'You've had a drink, it's late at night, you are a young woman, call someone you can trust and can give you advice on how to get home, I think that's the best thing to do.'

Her comments were met with backlash from viewers. 

 'As a rape victim your comments on #LooseWomen were appalling.'

'You seemed to blame the victims. Hope it never happens to you!' said one viewer. 

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A Daily Mail journalist has come under fire after she condemned the women who have spoken out about sexual harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Speaking as part of a panel on Channel 4 News, Dame Ann Leslie said women who report incidents of inappropriate sexual behaviour “can’t have it both ways.”

Shockingly, the controversial comments came after Ann revealed that she had been asexually assaulted by the late politician, Nicholas Fairburn.

The journalist told how the former Tory MP, who died in 1995, placed his hand on her crotch during a joint appearance on an episode of BBC Radio 4's Any Questions.

“However, what I don’t like about what’s going on now is feminists have been trying all the time to say ‘oh my goodness, women must be in power, they must be strong, they will be strong’,” she said on the programme.

“They seem to spend their time now saying women are traumatised because some some silly old drunk in Parliament put his hand on her knee or anything like that. You can’t have it both ways.”

“You can't say women are strong and empowered and then say they're scared and they're going to cry and all that sort of thing.”

Her comments have been widely condemned by feminist groups across the UK with some accusing her of trivialising and dismissing the seriousness of these types of allegations.

Ann also made the ridiculous claims that women in the UK believe they “should scream and say ‘rape coming up’” if they are touched on the arm – to which fellow panellist, Guru-Murthy replied: “They don’t scream and say rape, they say stop treating me like a sexual object.”

Outraged viewers have taken to social media to stand up for the many women whose voices were belittled by the journalist's comments.

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An Egyptian lawyer has come under fire after he suggested that women who wear revealing clothing, such as ripped jeans, deserve to be raped.

Nabih al-Wahsh, a prominent conservative, said it is a “patriotic duty” to sexually harass a girl who shows parts of her body in public.

According to Al Arabiya, he said: “Are you happy when you see a girl walking down the street with half of her behind showing?”

“I say that when a girl walks about like that, it is a patriotic duty to sexually harass her and a national duty to rape her.”

Adding: “Girls must respect themselves so others respect them.”

The shocking comments were made during a live television debate in which panel members were discussing a draft law fighting prostitution and debauchery.

Understandably, Mr al-Wahsh's statement has sparked outrage across the globe and Egypt’s National Council for Women have announced plans to file a complaint against the TV channel.

“All the members of the council denounce and decry this statement that explicitly promotes rape and sexual harassment,” it said in a statement.

According to reports, Al-Wahsh previously described Egypt’s National Centre for Women as a "suspicious den" responsible for the "spread of divorces" and the "destruction of Egypt."

The comments come after an international poll named Cairo as the most dangerous megacity for women to live in. 

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For some of us, it was tempting to simply shake our heads in disbelief, and move on.

For more of us, it was preferable to console ourselves with the notion that her words were taken out of context, before desperately quelling any emerging fears that they weren’t.

But we can’t.

To ignore Donna Karan’s recent remarks on the supposed culpability of women who find themselves the victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault makes us complicit.

Speaking at the CinéFashion Film Awards on Sunday, the 69-year-old fashion designer defended Harvey Weinstein against recent allegations of sexual harassment.

“To see it here in our own country is very difficult, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women?” she asked.

“What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?”

The answer to that, Donna, is no. 

Quick word in your ear; if we accept – on any level – that a woman’s choice of clothing determines whether she will fall victim to the actions of a rapist, we – quite simply – absolve the rapist of his responsibility.

But with Donna Karan’s remarks coming only weeks after George Hook’s, it can feel like we’re fighting a losing battle –  a battle where victims are forced to question how they could have changed the outcome of another person’s intentions.

Yes, it is massively frustrating and hugely disheartening to find ourselves constantly challenging the victim-blaming narrative, but we have to.

For every child whose cartoon-emblazoned pyjamas didn’t stop the actions of a rapist.

For every teen whose school jumper and tracksuit bottoms didn’t deter that violent stranger.

For every young woman whose favourite Saturday night dress was not an invitation.

For every middle-aged woman whose tired work uniform didn’t prevent her rape.

And for every octogenarian whose dressing gown didn’t dissuade that intruder.

So, in case you didn’t hear it the first 27,000 times, women are not responsible for the actions of men.

And for those out there, who suggest we simply dismiss Donna Karan’s remarks as the utterings of a deluded 69-year-old woman, with little cognisance of the effect her words can have, unfortunately it’s not an option.

We have to see them for how dangerous they really are, and we have to accept that when these hideously offensive remarks are made by a woman, the fall-out can be even more catastrophic.

So once again, lest we forget, for every one victim-blaming sentiment, one rapist is being given a ‘free pass’.

Donna, clothes don't make a rapist.

And how we 'present ourselves as women' is inconsequential while how we celebrate 'sensuality and sexuality' is beside the point.

If a man makes the decision to harass, assault or rape a woman, the clothes on her back is the last thing on their mind. 

And it should be the last on yours.

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A lawyer acting for Robin Camp, a Canadian judge who recently resigned after a review board concluded he was guilty of victim-blaming in a rape trial, insisted that the judge's misconduct was the product of 'ignorance, not animus'.

As if that's supposed to render his suggestion that an alleged rape victim could have kept 'her knees together' during an assault any less damaging or, indeed, dangerous.

If you're one of the many who question the culture of victim-blaming, desperately attempt to quell the paradigm, and wonder where we've gone wrong as a society when the victim of a rape faces judgement and condemnation, you need look no further than the Robin Camp example.

When an individual in a profession who – as the review board put it – is 'expected to demonstrate knowledge of social issues, and awareness of changes in social values, humility, tolerance and respect for others' deems it appropriate to ask a young woman why she didn't better fend off penetration, is it any wonder rape culture is so prevalent?

"Why didn’t you just sink your bottom down into the basin so he couldn’t penetrate you?” he asked the young woman who was just 19 at the time of the assault in 2014.

"And when your ankles were held together by your jeans, your skinny jeans, why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” he wondered.

Nowhere does the blame appear to be placed more firmly at the door of the victim than during rape cases. 

The idea that the target of a mugging might be asked why they bought an expensive phone seems ludicrous.

The notion that the complainant in a burglary case might be forced to defend their home security system seems farcical.

And yet, in numerous rape cases, the victim is asked why she was drunk, what she was wearing, and how she had allowed it to happen.

Indeed, British High Court judge, Andrew Gilbart, recently offered his own assessment of a sexual assault case, asserting: "I’m sure it was a frightening incident. She got very, very drunk. It doesn’t excuse what happened, but people have to make sure they protect themselves and guard against this, she made herself very vulnerable,”

“The law seeks to protect victims such as this from their own foolishness. The complainant had got herself drunk, was in a public place, unable to protect herself and the law must be seen to protect vulnerable people from being picked on by those who spot their vulnerability and choose to attack them." he added.

The complainant did this, the complainant did that, the complainant, essentially, asked for it.

And we wonder why the culture of victim blaming thrives online among internet trolls and why some men deem it fitting to carry 'You Deserve Rape' placards at women's marches when individuals representing the judicial system appear to suggest something similar.

Instances like the aforementioned indicate that the abhorrent attitude towards women in rape cases is by no means resigned to the murkier areas of the world wide web, nor can it be dismissed as 'locker room banter', but is in fact evident among professionals employed to demonstrate an awareness of changes in social values, humility, tolerance and respect for others.

In the same way ignorance of the law is no excuse, neither is ignorance of the trauma experienced by victims of rape and sexual assault… no matter what Robin Camp's attorney might argue.
 

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