“Even if you go down the street in your bare ass, sexual misconduct is never your fault!”

Today, November 6, 2020, is skirt day. Not Martin Brils, but a new skirt day. A day when we say, no matter what youre wearing, no matter how you go, sexual misconduct is never your own fault. Because no, no one asks for it.

No less than 44 percent of women regularly feel unsafe in public spaces. This was shown at the beginning of this year by Vrouw.nl. More than half of Dutch women (51 percent) avoid situations or environments because of fear of physical/sexual violence. And almost three-quarters of women in our country have ever been sexually harassed.

Debt

It is just a few of the shocking figures about sexual abuse of women in the Netherlands. What these figures should bring about is indignation. Outrage at the fact that so many men seem to think that women are utensils on which they can express their lust.

Yet the blame is still very often on the women themselves. If only she should not wear such a short skirt. Then you should not dress so sexy. But sexual abuse is never your own fault. If you walk your bare ass through a street full of horny men who have been dry for five years, they still have to leave you alone. Until you, indeed, literally ask for it yourself.

Victim blaming

It seems so logical in theory: sexual abuse is always the fault of the abuser. Yet victim blaming — holding the victim (partly) responsible for the abuse — is the order of the day, which is why Rutgers and Atria are launching a campaign against this phenomenon today.

With their skirt day and the hashtag #ZegErWatVan, they call on people to say something about it when they witness victim blaming. Is your group of friends joking about women who look slutty ? Do you see people on social media under a news report about a rape asking what the victim was wearing? Say some of it!

It doesnt matter what a person looks like, theres never an excuse for sexual abuse.

As a young woman, I too have had to deal with sexual harassment and, unfortunately, also with rape. That had nothing to do with my tight jeans or the short dresses I used to wear. I didnt wear it because I wanted to hiss on the street or get pinched up my ass on the tram.

When I was standing in front of my closet in the morning, I didnt think: what outfit would cause a man to enter me by force? After all, I said no when he ripped that outfit off my body. So did I ask for it? No. He thought it was given to him. But thats something completely different.

Reporting

Due to the culture of guilt that victim blaming has been causing for many years, there are so few victims of sexual abuse who report. Finally, why would you, as one of the first questions you get is what your share was? After I arrived at the police station with the marks on my neck, I was interrogated for an afternoon. Not about what hed done, but what Id done.

What was I wearing, the same tight sweater? Had I been drinking? Why was I in his house? What did I say to him? My report was never done anything. But a lot of victims dont even end up in that pile that nothing is done with, because they immediately put on all the penance. Because our shame culture has told them that that short skirt, or that flirtatious conversation, has led someone to take advantage of them.

Conversely

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that it is not an abuse, even though they did not want it. Because they themselves should have behaved differently, better. But that is, of course, the reverse world. Were not saying youre asking for your house to be stolen if you dont dig a moat around it and dont put a fence around it. So why is it your own fault if youre being abused or raped?

Victim blaming maintains the commission of sexual abuse and violence, because it turns a crime into something the victim is guilty of. And that it is actually not such a drama and above all something that you could easily have prevented yourself. That is not true and even if it were that simple, then still it simply should not be necessary to prevent it yourself.

Respect

simply because no one, never, under any circumstances, is allowed to take advantage of anyone. No matter what you wear, no matter what you look like, no matter what you radiate, its never your fault.

Today is skirt day. So get out in your skirt. In your dress. In your tight jeans. For all I care, in your string bikini. And ask for it. So for respect. And decency. Dont you get that? Say some of it. Because victims are not guilty. Never.