Target: Lieutenant General Károly Papp, Chief Commissioner of Hungarian National Police
Goal: Stop releasing victim-blaming rape advice to the public
A statement from the Vas County Police Department in Hungary suggests that young women who flirt can “elicit violence” against themselves. The police department of another Hungarian county also recently released a safety video depicting women drinking and dancing with men at a nightclub that ends with one of the women being assaulted and the slogan: “You can do something about it; you can do something against it.” This “safety advice” suggests that women drink or flirt their way into being sexual assaulted and that they then carry the blame for their abuse.
Victim blaming is not only harmful to those who have suffered abuse, but it ignores the real problem: the assailant. The dress or behavior of a victim of sexual assault is not harmful or violent or cruel, but the behavior of the offender is. To blame a victim of sexual assault for the abuse they suffered due to their clothing or demeanor is tantamount to blaming a baby whose parent abused it for crying and waking that parent up. Rape culture around the world supports the abuse of victims by refusing to treat the victim as the innocent party.
Hungarian women’s rights advocates have called the video and statement “harmful and dangerous.” As it was so aptly stated by a women’s rights group on Hungarian social media: “It’s not clothes that cause victims.” It is the job of police to protect and to serve citizens, not blame them for the abuse that others inflict on them. It is not common practice for police to tell convenience stores that are robbed that they shouldn’t allow suspicious customers into the store and that maybe they should reconsider being open at night.
This victim-blaming rape-safety campaign is disturbing and detrimental. To end violence against women, we must end rape culture, not female freedom. Demand Hungary’s Police Departments restructure their safety campaign around protecting victims and blaming perpetrators.
Dear Lieutenant General Papp,
The rape-safety campaign of the Hungary police blames victims of sexual assault for eliciting attacks. Both the safety video and the recent statement encouraging women not to flirt in order to avoid assault are ludicrous and harmful. Victim blaming promotes rape culture and stigmatizes personal freedom. Police are meant to protect and to serve citizens, and accusing victims of having a hand in their own abuse does neither. Clothing and flirtation are not invitations to incredibly horrific and violent acts.
Furthermore, the campaign misses the mark entirely. Assailants are the offenders, not those suffering the assault. Will there be a video from your department telling shop owners to close before dark and sell items through bulletproof glass, or is the blame only appropriate for victims of sexual assault?
I urge you to focus your efforts on the problem of violence against women, not the dangers of being a woman and leaving the house.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Andi_Graf via Pixabay