herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Rape Crisis boss slams advert that 'blames victim'

Cliona Saidlear
Cliona Saidlear

THE Rape Crisis Network Ireland has blasted a Diageo-funded Stop Out-of-Control Drinking ad as a "sinister" example of a victim being blamed for being sexually assaulted.

A still image shows a young women with smeared make-up who has clearly been crying sitting on her bed with her younger sister watching on in the background.

The tag line reads Who's following in your footsteps: Out-of-control-drinking has consequences.

"The sinister inference is that the young girl has been attacked on her way home," said Cliona Saidlear, the director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland.

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"The belief that drunk girls are 'asking for it' is one that needs to be strongly challenged as it is one that we know perpetrators use to select and target their victims knowing this cultural attitude will mean they get away with it," she added.

"Disappointingly, the Stop Out-of-Control Campaign instead of challenging it has reinforced it here."

The Rape Crisis Network has asked that the ad be pulled to avoid re-enforcing such dangerous messages.

Originally the RCNI believed that the woman in the doorway was supposed to be the drunk girl's mother and that she was responsible for her daughter's drinking habits.

However, a spokesperson for the campaign has rejected that suggestion and explained that the idea behind the ad was to show that binge-drinking has consequences for other people in our lives too.

The group has completely rejected the idea that the ad is damaging or contributing to victim blaming.

"This image may be provocative, and is intended to be," Conor Dempsey of the campaign explained.

"It has, however, been wildly misunderstood and misinterpreted by the Director of the Rape Crisis Network, who has made a series of completely inaccurate claims," he added.

Mr Dempsey added that a number of people involved had, in the past, worked alongside victims of sexual violence and would never allow such a message in their campaign.

Ms Saidlear stood by her interpretation of the ad, however, and told the Herald that irrespective of the background character the message was still a damaging one.

"The implication is that you were drunk and something bad happened to you. It's a shaming of women and girls," she said.

The campaign was launched just over a month ago and has been plagued with criticism over its links with the drinks industry giant.

hnews@herald.ie

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