Why I think victim blaming won’t prevent sexual assault

We need more police on the streets

Women now have a 1 in 85 chance of being sexually assaulted while at university, but according to the Police, as long as they are aware of their “personal safety” they will be protected.

It wasn’t until I was in second year that the sexual assaults happening in Fallowfield became a common and it seemed unavoidable occurrence. The first one I heard about was a rape that took place on Ladybarn Lane late at night. Firstly I was shocked that it had happened so close to where I live (I can see the road from my bedroom window) but it was also the first time I began to feel unsafe in the place that I was calling home. It wasn’t that I was unaware of sexual attacks, however it never seemed that they were prevalent enough to be of concern. It was not until it seemed that there was a report of a rape or sexual assault every week that I began to ask why.

This is no longer a safe place


Why are we now all terrified to leave the house alone? Why do I fear for my friends’ safety when they are coming to and from my home? Why do these assaults keep happening, even though everyone is aware of them?

It seems that the police response has now become as routine as the attacks themselves. It is as if we are susceptible to a cold or virus, we are given directions on how to behave to avoid catching the illness. Instead of trying to find a cure or some form of preventative measure we are just left to fend for ourselves and hope that we can avoid it.

If women in Manchester can no longer go for a walk in the park in daylight without the threat of being sexually assaulted or harassed then why are these guidelines in place? The police are merely scrambling for the old reliable advice of “personal safety” despite the fact that it is defunct. Rather than tackling to remove the fear that now hangs heavily over Fallowfield, they provide women with the same tired words that we have been hearing since we were children. “Don’t walk alone at night”, “Make sure that someone knows where you are” etc etc.

The assault took place during daylight in Platt Fields Park

Well, surely they should add “travel only from home to transport, to university and then to home again” to this list, it now seems that life is being filtered that way, since going for a walk in the park is obviously not being aware of “personal safety”.

Figures show that there is a one in 85 chance of a female student being the victim of a sexual attack over a three year course. Why should women have to enter into the already daunting phase of university with the added fear of being sexually assaulted during her time there?

Despite there being many campaigns made by students and residents of Fallowfield – a petition to increase police patrols in the area which never came to fruition- there have been little signs of changes. Yes, police patrols have slightly increased, but the fact that the attacks are still happening so frequently shows that there needs to be more.

With nearly 2,000 people taking part in February’s Reclaim the Night it’s clear awareness and fear is present. If things continue the way they are, coupled with weak advice from a flailing police force I will soon have to take part in a “Reclaim the Day” March simply to feel like I have a sense of personal security when walking around the place that I live.

The hope for safe streets at Reclaim The Night

Why is it acceptable to inherently victim blame those who have been assaulted by advising others to be aware of their personal safety? It suggests that the victim was not following the flimsy guidelines that have been provided to them. When in reality there were not enough precautions in place to prevent the attack from happening in the first place. The question is: why do these guidelines continue to be given to us when it has been continually demonstrated that they do not work?