(story told by an actress)
Rape prevention needs to focus on perpetrators
Belfast Feminist Network have launched an online campaign to call for a change in the way public safety messages about rape and sexual assault are delivered. The Network commissioned local film company Campaign Social to make the short film “The way I see it” that portrays a survivor of rape talking about the experience and how she has come to terms with what happened. It also uses statistics from the Northern Ireland Crime Survey report on experiences of sexual violence and abuse to highlight the fact that 1 in 4 women are affected by this crime, with the vast majority of them having prior knowledge of their attacker.
A spokesperson for Belfast Feminist Network described the reason for making the film at this time:
“While there are increased incidents of rape and sexual assault over the Christmas period, the PSNI prevention campaigns in recent years have made the mistake of focusing on telling women how to avoid getting raped, rather than driving home the message that rape is never acceptable and the law places the burden of responsibility on men to seek clear consent. Teaching women to be more careful only serves to make excuses for rape, create a culture of shame for victims that makes it harder to report. This contributes to the very low conviction rates which do not deter attackers. Victim-focused campaigns don’t make women safer as they do nothing to challenge the attitudes and behaviour of men who rape.”
The film will be shared through social media in an attempt to make sure the voices of survivors of rape are heard. The film’s director, Matt Bonner of Campaign Social said:
“The challenge in filming this piece was to portray a side of this issue that campaign ads rarely portray accurately, that of the victim. Through filming in Belfast, I wanted this particular person’s story to have the look and feel of a short film, whilst grounding it locally. It should be something that anyone living here can connect with.”
The film is available to view at belfastfeministnetwork.com and through their Facebook and Twitter pages. The Network will also be holding a candlelight vigil in Belfast City Centre on Friday at 5:30pm to mark the closing of the international “16 Days” campaign that highlights the issue of violence against women.