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News NetworkNSW Police Commissioner Blames Rape on Women?

NSW Police Commissioner Blames Rape on Women?

By Billy Moffat (14/10/2011)846 words
Tagged: australia, crime, current affairs, editorial, news, polic

Police Commissioner of NSW (Australia), Andrew Scipione made some recommendations on preventing rape last Sunday. Still, people appear be in uproar about it. What could he possibly have said to get people so angry?

The story appears to have become viral after "News with Nipples" (a "blog about the news and sexism") by Kim Powell, ran the story titled, "If you're drunk and get raped, you've got no one to blame but yourself, says NSW Police Commissioner". If you stop reading here, you might believe the Australian police is run by a monster.

I received the following email from a petition website this morning:

According to police commissioner Andrew Scipione, young women who want to avoid getting raped should rely on their friends and their sobriety to keep them safe. This is a form of rape apology.

Tell Commissioner Scipione to get his priorities straight. [link]

Although Scipione clearly had good intentions, his comments imply that women who do get sexually assaulted should have planned ahead better. He is also insinuating that women will be safe from rape if they stay sober, which is absolutely false.

Rape is the fault of the rapist and the rapist alone, no matter the circumstance.

Call on Police Commissioner Scipione to take real action against assault in New South Wales instead of relying on victim-blaming. [link]


- Care2.com, Inc.

More specifically (and less dramatically), he said to "look out for your mates". He then referenced a study of over two hundred female students which found "young females who consume alcohol at harmful levels are more likely to experience harmful sexual situations". He recommended that girls tell their friends if they planned to have sex after a night out. That way, "If they see you wandering off with a male that they don't know and they see you in a state of intoxication - and it's not your intention to have sex tonight - they stop the girl".

Before I explain how stupid this is, I should make the disclaimer that the Police Commissioner is famously conservative, stiff-lipped, religious, and abstains from drinking. I am liberal-leaning, and near-militant atheist with mildly pro-feminist views. Therefore I am very pre-disposed to being against his opinions.

That said, I support him 100% with his comments, and think the people trying to pretend he said something that belongs in a 1950's advertisement should shut down their blogs and find a new hobby.

Left-wing, progressive, feminist philosophy student Eleanor Gordon-Smith explained his context well:

Scipione is a graduate of not one but four prestigious crime-prevention programs, including the FBI National Executive Institute. He runs the fourth-largest police force in the Western world. He has a wife and a daughter. This is not the picture of a rogue woman-hater or a moralising sex-shamer. This is the picture of a man whose job it is to prevent crime. - Eleanor Gordon-Smith

He's not saying "if you get raped you should have planned better" - he's saying that you should plan better to lower your chances of being raped. He's not saying "if you get drunk, you only have yourself to blame if you get raped" - he's saying that you need to make sure if you're getting drunk that you have safety measures in place to compensate for your diminished mental and physical capacity.

He's the head of police in NSW and I'm sure has had to deal with a lot of bad things in his time. He's likely pre-disposed to hate every form of criminal ever created with a passion. He is certainly not going to defend rapists - one of the worst people his life-long job has been to hunt.

If he wants to encourage women to act more safely in party environments and with more common sense - with extra caution if intoxicated - while being under the assumption that rapists exist (spoiler alert; they do) - then as long as he's not proposing they wear full-body coverings and are always supervised by a male chaperone - He's doing a good thing for the passionate anti-rape crowd!

His full time job is to manage the group of people who catch criminals and punish them. If he can save himself a few days a year of tracking them by preventing those crimes - simply by reminding potential victims to be cautious within the confines of what is both reasonable and makes sense, then why does it matter? If he spent those five minutes reminding men that rape is bad - do you think it would have had anywhere near the level of effect? If someone wants to commit a capital offence, they're usually not going to decide against it because they're reminded it's bad. At least, not as often as women will take extra precautions when reminded of the dangers that do exist and likely always will

Seriously, to get angry at this guy for "victim-blaming" or "rape-apology" makes about as much sense as berating a child-care worker for teaching pre-school kids about stranger danger, rather than making the rarely-heard argument that pedophilia is not acceptable.

Author - Billy Moffat (thumbnail)
Author - Billy Moffat
Owner and sole developer of Meercat9.com, he attends university full time but has a passionate addiction to the internet, particularly programming. Due to the lack of other developers for the site, he is often forced to write about himself in the third person.