Victim-Blaming in #ProjGuardian: With Update

Project Guardian is a campaign currently being run by the British Transport Police to deal with the unrelenting sexual harassment on public transport in London. BTP worked with women’s organisations:  End Violence against Women coalition, Hollaback and Everyday Sexism. By all accounts, the campaign has been quite successful in raising men’s awareness of the never-ending sexual harassment women experience as well as an increase in women coming forward to report their experiences.

Even within a campaign designed to support women, victim-blaming is never to far behind as seen by this tweet which was retweeted by the official British Transport Police

Sexual harassment doesn’t happen because “it goes unchallenged by the victims.”

Sexual harassment occurs because men believe they have the right to harass, sexually assault, and rape women. 

Holding women responsible for sexual harassment because they don’t “challenge” it is disgusting victim-blaming misogyny.

Whoever was running the BTP account today clearly wasn’t paying any attention at all to the training and guideline support given by EVAW, Hollaback and Everyday Sexism.

Women respond to sexual harassment in a multitude of ways: from ignoring, shouting, or reporting to the police. We respond based on whether or not we feel safe to do so. Frankly even when women do shout for help, most men turn away. I can count on one hand the number of times men have actually helped when I’ve been sexually harassed in public. 

A campaign to inform women of how they can get help after being sexually harassed on public transport is important.

But, what we really need, is for men to stop harassing, assaulting and raping us.

We need men to start policing men’s behaviour. 

Do not tell women how they should or should respond to male violence.

Tell other men to stop committing violence. 


UPDATE: BTP have responded with an apology. I’ve reproduced the full twitlonger below as they have addressed my concerns (and those of others) and apologised.

@EVB_Now @LeStewpot @btp_uk @genderCSR @NSGillan @EverydaySexism @evaw Hi all, we’d like to clear up any misunderstandings from a retweet made during the live chat yesterday.  

Project Guardian is all about ensuring victims of sexual offences are treated the right way every time. We would like to make it clear we totally and completely disagree with any sentiments that apportion blame to victims. 

The perpetrators are solely to blame for any incident of this nature and it is their behaviour we are aiming to change and stop. 

We’re sorry for any misunderstanding. We’re extremely grateful to everyone’s contribution to the Project Guardian live chats.

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