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Comment an example of rape culture

If they don't want to be snapped they should not wear that on the beach” – This is an example of rape culture

22 June 2018 for immediate release

In response to: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/104891606/supreme-court-rules-in-favour-of-kaiteriteri-bikinisnapper

Graham Thomas Rowe, 61, has had an indecency conviction, for taking surreptitious photos of three girls aged 12-15 in their bikinis at Kaiteriteri Beach, quashed by the Supreme Court. Rowe's lawyer Steven Zindel has said in defence of his client, “If they don't want to be snapped they should not wear that on the beach”.

National Council of Women Chief Executive and Gender Equal NZ Spokesperson Gill Greer says “Zindel’s comment about these girls not wearing bikinis at the beach highlights what is known as rape culture.”

“Rape culture is a culture where we normalise sexual violence. We see this on a continuum – from rape jokes, ‘locker room banter’ and victim blaming, through to catcalling, non-consensual sexual photos, to sexual coercion and rape.”

Zindel’s comment falls at the lower end of the continuum, but it contributes to a culture which we should all be ashamed of. “Part of the problem is what we think of as normal” says Gill, “what we are willing to let slide. In a rape culture what the victim wore, consumed, said, and how they acted is questioned and scrutinised.”

“New Zealand has the highest rates of domestic and sexual violence in the OECD. But we need to do all we can to stop sexual violence – by stopping the people doing it, by stopping the people excusing it and by shifting the focus from victim blaming.”

Across the Tasman the response to Eurydice Dixon’s devastating rape and murder has been another example of these attitudes. Superintendent David Clayton’s told reporters that women needed to be aware of who may be around them. “So just make sure you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings,” Clayton said. “If you’ve got a mobile phone carry it and if you’ve got any concerns, call police.”

“But what these tips do is bring the focus to controlling women’s behaviour and limiting their lives – and their access to the public sphere” says Gill. “Women and girls have been given advice for years about how to ‘protect’ themselves against sexual assault. The reality is, whether they follow the advice or not, they’re still blamed for the assaults on them.”

Results from our recent Gender Attitudes Survey show 15% of New Zealanders think if someone is raped when they’re drunk they’re at least partly responsible. “We need to put the responsibility for the crime on the person who committed it and not on the person targeted. There is nothing anyone could do or not do that could “cause” a sexual assault, harassment, intimate partner violence, or stalking to happen.”

“There is a range of ways that we can work to dismantle rape culture” says Gill, “for example, we can reject traditional gender norms that encourage victim blaming and stereotypes about violent masculinity. We can support consent education and we can learn that not everything we see and read in the media is an accurate portrayal.”

“We need to stop making comments around what women should and shouldn't do – and instead we need to focus on changing our culture.”


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