Home' The Wellingtonian : August 18th 2011 Contents 14 THE WELLINGTONIAN, AUGUST 18, 2011
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26th Sept 2011
Misconceptions about rape
By CALLUM TOWNSEND
Making a point: Some of the SlutWalk
protesters last month.
THE HARD FACTS
Rape Crisis client statistics for the period
July 2010 to June 2011 (statistics
include reported cases of both rape and
More than half of sexual abuse victims
reported the offender was a partner,
family member or friend.
Only 2 per cent of attacks were
attributed to someone the victim met on
the night of the offence.
Just 3 per cent of attacks were
attributed to strangers.
New Zealand is still mired in
misconceptions about rape and sexual
abuse, one of the organisers of a recent
protest march says.
The SlutWalk protest, held along Wellin-
gton's waterfront in June, was designed to
stimulate public debate about rape myths.
The first such protest was held after a
Canadian policeman said women should
avoid dressing like sluts'' to keep safe from
Maria Scannell, co-organiser of Welling-
ton's SlutWalk, said a laundry list of mis-
taken beliefs still hamstrung public debate
Too many people thought that if you're
dressed a certain way you're asking for it, if
you're drunk you're asking for it''.
As for those who compared dress-
ing modestly to avoid rape with care-
fully locking their houses at night to
avoid burglary, that view was simply
insulting, she said.
A woman's body is not property.
That's a really, really horrific concep-
Treating a woman's dress, drunk-
enness or sexual history as relevant
not only shifted the blame on to the
victim, it was also misleading, she
Women were statistically much
more at risk in their own homes than
out on the town, whatever they were
doing or wearing.
With the Rugby World Cup
looming, police have said young
women need to take extra care when
out enjoying night-life.
But however well-meaning that
advice, it missed the point, Ms Scan-
I don't want the message to be
keep yourself safe by not going out
with your friends'.''
Telling women not to go out or not
to wear a short skirt might be valid
if it reflected the truth about rape
and sexual assault, but it did not,
What was more important in
improving public knowledge of issues
about sexual assault was education
for men and women.
You get taught all about condoms and
STIs. . .butIdon'tthinkIwasevertoldin
high school what consent entailed.''
Jackie Edmond, chief executive of Family
Planning, said better education would have
numerous benefits for young people, clear-
ing up myths not only about rape but about
Comprehensive sexuality education
would be my biggest message, and it isn't
mechanics of sex [only]. It's more compli-
cated than that.''
Education would also help girls in par-
ticular find a way to reconcile conflicting
The old stereotype that men are studs
and girls are slappers'' suggested that
although men could be promiscuous,
women should not enjoy sex or have mul-
tiple partners, Ms Edmond said.
At the same time, young women were
confronted with a sense that they should
be having sex, so they're not necessarily
comfortable saying no''.
It was not necessarily true that young
women were having a lot of sex.
The best available scientific measure of
New Zealanders' sexual behaviour was the
Youth '07 study conducted by Auckland
The study showed 35 per cent of female
and 38 per cent of male secondary students
aged 18 or over had had sex.
Ms Edmond said social expectations
could affect the choices young women made.
We [are] concerned with . . . the levels of
coercion that young women feel. And it's
not necessarily [in] a violent sense.''
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