Guess what I found yesterday?
Just an infographic from the Banaue Police Station sharing rape prevention tips. Nothing much.
The infographic bearing the Philippine National Police and Banaue Police Station’s emblems lists 10 helpful ways a woman can do to prevent getting sexually assaulted. If you’re worried that things are about to get a little sexist, you’d be wrong. It got a lot sexist.
The post has since been removed. No doubt inspired by the backlash it faced in the comments section. But worry not. We got a photo of it (a.k.a. receipts). Behold the wonders of our local enforcement’s still backward understanding of rape culture.
Ain’t it beautiful?
Here’s an encoded list of the tips in English:
- Avoid wearing short dresses or skirts, or clothes that are easily removed.
- Don’t have intoxicating drinks or drugs.
- Avoid passing by dark places. Keep to safe and crowded spaces.
- Avoid walking alone. Go around in groups.
- Be alert of your surroundings. Avoid using your phone or any distractions while walking.
- In cases of assault, make loud noises or shout “HELP” as loud as you can.
- Try to escape. Use your umbrella or anything that will help you get away.
- Make a habit of bringing pepper spray or tear gas in your bag.
- Scratch the rapist. This will help resolve the case through a DNA test.
- The moment you’ve escaped, call for help from the police immediately.
Find anything helpful?
Look, we’ve had this argument a hundred, thousand times before. But seeing as this thing still existed, it looks we need to have it again. Rape isn’t a woman’s responsibility. It isn’t our fault. If only because of the simple and obvious fact that rape victims aren’t the perpetrators. But that’s what this infographic implies. All of those tips put the burden on the victim when they shouldn’t.
Now, there are those who will argue that there’s nothing wrong with this infographic. That those who complain are just privileged leftists and feminazis whose ideologies don’t work in real life. There are those who will say that this infographic is just being pragmatic because we can’t magically demand people to be decent human beings and not, you know, rape people. Let’s break that down, shall we?
The practicality of policing victims
How do you even know who’s about to become a rape victim? I mean, barring witnessing a person minutes away from being sexually assaulted, how do you know for sure who’s going to be raped one fine day?
The infographic implies that if you’re wearing revealing clothes, you’re a sure target. If you have a vagina and you drink? Sure target. Walking in a dark alley? Sure target. Do not have a pepper spray or tear gas packed away in your bag? Sure target.
But this isn’t the case. An exhibit in Brussels titled What Were You Wearing recreated the clothes worn by rape victims the day they were assaulted. These clothes ranged from a little girl’s red dress, a jeans and sweatshirt outfit, and an unflattering employee’s uniform. It seems that even if you do cover up, you’re still not safe from rape. And wearing revealing clothes isn’t what’s encouraging the act in the first place.
How about packing pepper sprays and tear gas? If the police prescribe that pepper spray and tear gas are a must for the safety of half of its citizens, then that makes it a resource that the government must supply. Just like water, rice, and education. If you have to assign pepper spray and tear gas units to every girl born per second, can you imagine the cost? Can our government afford it?
Now about passing through dark places. Rape doesn’t just happen in dark alleys. In fact, it rarely happens in dark alleys. You know where most recorded cases of rape occur? At home, in the workplace, in public bathrooms, and plenty more of well-lit places.
None of the Banaue PNP’s tips seem useful so far. Still think it’s pragmatic?
How do we really stop rape?
You know what would be the really pragmatic thing to do to effectively lessen instances of rape in the country? Identify the qualities or characteristics that make for a rapist. Because those, those are consistent. Once you’ve identified those characteristics, maybe it would be cool to recalibrate our education system and our culture of raising children so that we discourage those characteristics.
It sounds like a fantasy, but it’s actually being done already. There’s a program in Kenya called Your Moment of Truth and it teaches boys that it’s not okay to rape anyone. You’d think it’d be assumed, but no. Apparently, society’s implication that girls who wear short skirts, walk alone after dark, drink, or whom you’ve taken to an expensive date deserve to be raped make boys think that it’s justifiable to do so. Who’d have thunk?
The real gender of rape victims
One last point. Another factor that the infographic completely dismisses are the male rape victims. Contrary to popular belief, women aren’t the only ones who get sexually assaulted. Guys do, too. As evidenced by recent revelations about Kevin Spacey’s attack of a minor in the olden days, men are susceptible to rape too. By men and women.
Will they suggest men avoid wearing short skirts too? Or maybe that they don’t go out of their house half-naked? Who knows?
Photos courtesy of Facebook.com and Unsplash.com
Writer: ANTHEA REYES