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In an attempt to dispel the utter myth that provocative dress is a major contributing factor in violent sexual crimes, rape victims have loaned the clothes they wore during the assault for an exhibition in Brussels. The exhibition, Is it my fault, is taking place in the Molenbeek district and has been organised by the support group CAW East Brabant. The title of the exhibition refers to the self-doubt that many rape victims feel after being attacked.
The clothes borrowed to be put on display include dresses, pyjamas, tracksuit bottoms among other garments. CAW’s Liesbeth Kennes told VRT1 radio, “What you immediately notice when you walk around here: they are all very normal pieces that anyone would wear. There is even a children’s shirt with an image of ‘My Little Pony’ in the exhibition, which brings home a harsh reality.” Ms Kennes went on to say that “victim blaming” still remains a problem in sexual assault cases. Victim blaming where the victim may be questioned on the assumption that they were at least partly responsible for the sexual aggression against them.
Victim blaming is a deep rooted issue. Firstly, the term itself is rather offensive. It is widely rejected by survivors due to the use of the term “victim” instead of “survivor”. Telling a sexual assault survivor that what happened to them was in some way their fault, takes away responsibility from the perpetrator. To give an example of how deep rooted the thinking on this is, in 2005, Amnesty International found that a third of people thought that survivors of sexual violence were to blame if they had been “flirting” with somebody beforehand. It is worth noting that rape and sexual assaults are not solely about sex. They are crimes relating to power and control over another. Unfortunately, because most people view rape solely as a sexual act, they can often be misled to think it is purely about sex. This in turn will lead them to think that the survivor’s actions, such as wearing a revealing outfit or having consented to sex on another occasion with the perpetrator is them “asking for it”. This is completely false. Rape by definition is non-consensual and thus has not been “asked for” by any action.
Is it my fault is being held at the Centre Communautaire Maritime in Brussels.
What do you think about the exhibition? Do you have anything to comment about victim blaming? Let us know in the comment box below.