Monday, 18 July 2011


I know I should have posted this a few weeks ago when it was topical, but I was busy and just overlooked it.  Here it is anyway.

I have a difficulty with the slutwalks, because I think they're conflating two separate issues, and that is unhelpful.  They're mixing up the crime of sexual assault with  the likelihood that the way you dress might provoke such an assault.    These are not the same thing and should not be treated as a single entity.

First, sexual assault is intolerable and inexcusable, and it's a disgrace that so few cases are successfully prosecuted in the UK.  I know there are grey areas and all is not always as unambiguous as we'd like, but just a glance at the statistics should have our alarm bells ringing. 

Second, in my view the cop who sparked the whole thing off to start with was actually right.  If you dress provocatively, you might provoke.  That doesn't excuse that reaction, but it certainly makes it more likely.  And if you do something that makes an assault more likely, there's a case to be made that you contributed to the situation you find yourself in.

Let me offer a less controversial example.  If I crash my motorbike while driving at 80 mph, I can hardly complain if I hurt myself more than if I'd crashed at a rather more legal 60 mph.  I have contributed toward the severity of my injuries, although the actual cause of the crash might have been a careless car driver pulling out of a side turning.   The fact that I was speeding doesn't excuse him for not looking properly, but it does make the consequences worse than they might otherwise have been.

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