Sussex Police defend 'victim-blaming' anti-rape poster

Charities criticise poster campaign, saying it reinforces message that women are to blame for sexual assault

It said it was the beginning of its "innovative" new approach to preventing rape and serious sexual offences. The posters will feature in nightclubs and bars and on bus stops in Brighton and other cities in Sussex.

But charities said that the campaign reinforced the message that victims were responsible for attacks. The End Violence Against Women Coalition said it found the poster "infuriating".

"We need to get beyond police campaigns giving instructions to women on how to behave to be safe," director Sarah Green told the Daily Mail. "We need to talk to those who may perpetrate rape and deter them."

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Some people asked Sussex Police why they weren't directing their anti-rape campaign towards men. "How about: 'Men! On a night out don't let your mate go off and rape someone," suggested one Twitter user.

Others said the poster could be upsetting for victims of sexual assault and their friends, who would be made to feel that they were in some way responsible for an attack.

Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Mid Sussex, called for the campaign to be scrapped immediately. "Victim-blaming is a universal phenomenon," she said. "it appears we are taking a step backwards."

Sussex Police has refused to withdraw the poster, saying: "Rape is never a victim's fault, but as with all crimes we can reduce the number of victims in several ways."

It said everyone in the community should do what they can to prevent sexual assault. "Door supervisors, taxi drivers, bar staff and groups of friends or the wider public need to take responsibility to protect others from those who may cause them harm," a spokesperson told ITV news.

Last year the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London were criticised for a similar poster campaign, which warned against the dangers of using unlicensed mini cabs.

Manchester Police is one of the only forces to have been praised by women's charities for its anti-rape campaign. In December, its posters carried the concise slogan: 'Drinking is not a Crime. Rape is'.

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