Today is the 2nd International Day against Victim Blaming. It is the 2nd anniversary of the first Slutwalk which took place in Toronto, Canada, on April 3rd 2011, as a response to the actions of a cop who gave a public view that: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”. The movement spread around the world, from Delhi to here in Birmingham, with rape survivors and allies taking to the street in outrage at the ongoing war on women’s right to bodily autonomy.
2 years forward, and is there progress? Well, as someone who works with young women, I think my experience has been that there is growing interest in feminism and growing awareness of feminist arguments (rather than their misrepresentations) amongst young women. However, our world is still a world where Steubenville can take place: a situation where people en masse condemn a rape survivor for her behaviour and pity those who benefited from it being pursued for what they have done. It is still a world where rape is used routinely against women and children as a weapon of war. It is still a world where double standards police sexual behaviour, a world where young women themselves slut-shame.
- There are around 69K female and 9K male rape survivors in the UK per year (these figures may be low as are based on reporting).
- 1 in 5 women in the UK is the survivor of a sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault.
- Of 60 & 90k estimated UK rapes, 15,670 become recorded crimes. 3850 go to court or out of court disposal.
- Between 2009 -12 there were an estimated 78K rapes per year in the UK. Of these there were an average of 1.07K convictions.
- 4.6% of females aged 16-59 have survived rape or attempted rape since the age of 16. The male & female rate = 2.5%.
- 60% of court proceedings relating to sexual violence in the UK in 2011 resulted in conviction, with sexual assault on a male highest rate (91%) and rape of a female lowest (39.7%).
The survivors of sexual attacks deserve support, not a culture which undermines their credibility and questions their right bodily autonomy, whatever they wear and wherever they go. I wish I had only met one or two sexual violence survivors, but unfortunately I know very very many and the chances are you do to. Stand with them today by joining the International Day against Victim Blaming: make some noise, spread some information, and show some support.