Drogheda jogger attack shows focus needs to move from victim to perpetrator
Comment: Garda statements tend to be victim-centric rather than focusing on attackers
Shocking attack on woman in Drogheda this week will no doubt instil fear in other women, not least because gardaí in Drogheda have advised people “not to jog alone” in the aftermath of the attack.
The shocking attack on a woman in Drogheda this week will no doubt instil fear in other women, not least because gardaí in Drogheda have advised people “not to jog alone” in the aftermath of the attack.
Writing in The Irish Times, Elaine Keogh reported that gardaí said the victim was “left traumatised” after she was attacked and pulled into the Boyne river.
Once in the river, her attacker tried to take off her clothes.
The woman had already turned back towards Drogheda from her running route after noticing a man behind her. She was pulled over a wall and into the water.
A Garda press office spokesman said on Saturday: “Gardaí in Drogheda are investigating an alleged assault that occurred on Thursday morning at 9am. A woman was the injured party. No arrests have been made as yet and the investigations are ongoing.”
The gardaí’s communication in the aftermath of such attacks tends to be victim-centric. Warning people about potential danger is of course responsible advice. Yet as we know, it’s perpetrators of crime not their victims, who cause crime.
A spokesman for the gardaí said he did not want to be quoted on advice, instead pointing out the Crime Prevention section of the Garda website with regards to how people can be aware of their safety and the safety of their property.
Under the Streetwise section, the gardaí advise: “Young women should avoid the temptation to accompany strangers alone – however benign they may appear.”
In a discussion about the Drogheda attack on Twitter, the Irish feminist account, The Anti Room, run by Sinead Gleeson and Anna Carey tweeted, “Re: Drogheda attack. Gardai advising women not to jog alone. How about advising predatory men not to attack lone women instead?”
Switching the focus on the prevention of violent crime against women from the victim to the perpetrator as a more proactive approach is growing in pockets of public safety education.
SAFE Ireland’s Man Up campaign calls on men to prevent violence against women by not perpetrating it and standing up against it.
Don’t Be That Guy
The Don’t Be That Guy campaign, which began in Edmonton, Canada, switched the focus of rape from potential victims protecting themselves to calling on men not to rape.
It has since spread to various parts of the world, including Irish universities. In 2011 within a year of the campaign, it was reported that sexual assaults had dropped by 10 per cent in Vancouver, one of the cities where the campaign was publicised, the first drop in figures in several years.
At the time of the 10 per cent drop, deputy chief Doug LaPard in Vancouver commented the emphasis of public education is not limited to how women can make themselves less vulnerable, but that the campaign aims to reach men with the message that they should not be “that guy”, according to a Huffington Post report.
In recent times, the safety benefits of apps such as Hailo for taxis have also been cited as beneficial for women on their own.
The gardaí did not have an immediate breakdown of attacks against women for this year or last year, and said they did not have specifics on the number of recent violent attacks against women or attacks categorised by gender immediately to hand.
There have been several reports of random attacks on women in public recently. On October 22nd, a woman walking through Tir na Nog park in Castleknock in Dublin was attacked when she was attacked from behind by a man who attempted to strangle her.
“No arrests and the investigation is ongoing,” a Garda spokesman said. In July, a video clip of a woman being violently assaulted on a bus in Kilmainham in Dublin went viral. The video showed a woman in her 20s being repeatedly punched in the head.
The recent Garda Inspectorate report detailed particular problems within the force in relation to attitudes towards violence against women in the home.
The Chief Inspector of the Garda Síochána said: “The whole issue of domestic violence needs to be thoroughly reviewed. We had about 11,000 domestic violence incidents and there were only 287 cases where somebody got arrested.”
The National Women’s Council of Ireland said there was a “glaring need for a thorough review into how domestic and sexual violence is investigated.”
Since 1996, 204 women have been killed in Ireland, more than half of them by a partner or ex-partner.
A new report in the UK by the Criminal Justice Inspectorates (HMIC) found that 26 per cent of all sexual offences including rape reported to the police are not recorded as crimes.
A report published by the World Health Organisation this week found that around 7 per cent of women are at risk of being raped during their lifetimes. Also this week, a bill which seeks to amend the 1996 Domestic Violence Act was debated in the Dáil.
Earlier this year, Europe’s largest ever survey on violence against women revealed that 26% of Irish women (394,325 women) have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or non partner since the age of 15.