Wednesday, 30 July 2008

look at that, it's catching...

well, while are still not getting over the alac ads (for good reason), there is this little gem from the police today, in relation to a vicious sexual assault that happened at a hamilton service station:

Mr Hermann said any sexual assault was horrifying, but the pure callousness of the man's actions had stumped police.
"It's not as though she has put herself in a vulnerable position by say, walking home late at night after a few drinks, where you could consider your chances (of being attacked) are higher. You would think a staff member working early on a Sunday morning would be okay ... we're just appalled."

so, "put herself in a vulnerable position" is the new way of saying she "asked for it". note that the mr hermann in question is a hamilton CIB detective sergeant. i don't want to pick on him in particular, as i suspect this may be a common way of thinking where he works. But there is so much wrong with this statement, and the source it's coming from is pretty scary.

presumably the police know that a significan number of sexual attacks happen to women in their own homes, and are committed by persons known to them. you would think? and a lot of them happen in hotel rooms and and other places that can't be classified as "walking home at night". that information would be available to them, right?? wouldn't it???

but the way he has framed his words makes it sound like walking home late at night is now a crime. putting yourself in a vulnerable position, and thereby wasting valuable police time by pretty much asking to be attacked. naughty women. i wonder if mr hermann has seen the alac ads. i wonder if they have influenced his thinking. because it seriously does sound like it.

so, um, do we make some kind of formal complaint to the police? would it be worth the effort? or maybe it would be better to call mr hermann and have a quiet chat about things. i'd really appreciate some guidance here.


Anna McM said...

Yes, absolutely yes, we need to say something. I share your sense that the guy was probably trying to be compassion - but this way of thinking about rape is, of course, very deeply ingrained. I agree with the softly, softly approach. I think - although I might be wrong - that the Police are trying to do better in terms of the way they deal with sexual violence. I'd like to support that, ideally, by getting them to question their thinking without making them too defensive. I reckon direct contact from you would be good. I'd also like to send an email to whoever is the district commander, explaining how alienated women feel when they read blaming comments.

Lita said...

Ugh, the attitude is just so ingrained. I have been recalling an experience where I took a friend to the police after being hit by her partner, the police basically told her to go home to him and to not cause trouble by making a formal statement.

It gets me so wild, remembering it, and hearing these attitudes.

This week I overheard a group of strangers talking about Veitch and how "crucified" he was, and how "noone cares what he did 2 years ago". The victim was labelled "a bitch" for bringing it up now. I had to move away, giving the evil eye for so long gave me a headache, it's just so depressing to hear this shit.

Folk seem to accept violence as a natural part of humanity, and even moreso male on female violence. It's so sad. How can the cycle of violence be stopped when this attitude prevails within our protectors and justice system?

Anna McM said...

Lita, I share your discouragement on this issue. Your incident with your friend is just awful. I think the only way forward is to do as stargazer has done - look out for small opportunities to counter dominant ideas with something better. I'm not excusing the Police in this instance, but they do have an insular culture - there may be well-meaning people amongst them who just haven't had their thinking challenged on these issues.

weka said...

I'm amazed that there are petrol stations still open (or dairies for that matter). I mean, aren't people who work there making themselves vulnerable to P-fueled attacks and robberies simply by turning up for work?

Contacting the detective and the district commander both sound like good ideas.

The ex-expat said...

Arrrgh I hate this shit.

I went out for a quiet meal last Friday with the Suit at a bar that aside from several Suits drinking outside was empty. I soon found out why when one of the guys felt the need to grab my ass and when I swung around to give a 'WTF' started poking his tounge out porn-star style.

Yup even with with a man to 'protect' me apparently the streets aren't safe.

Julie said...

Thanks for highlighting this Anjum, I used it as an example in a speech I gave today about the Lisa advert stuff (which I'm going to put up soon).

Kate from Auckland Sexual Abuse Help spoke at the forum too and she mentioned that the police now have Adult Sexual Assault Teams, which police officers specifically trained in how to deal appropriately with sexual violence. I hope this CIB detective sergeant is not in one of those teams...

Ben R said...

"but the way he has framed his words makes it sound like walking home late at night is now a crime."

I can see your point that the word "putting" seemingly attributes a degree of culpability to the victim. Unfortunately, a person walking home alone is more vulnerable. I don't think he's saying that is the women's fault though.

Overall, I felt he was pointing out how unusual this was.

As for saying it's the new way of saying "she asked for it",
it's hardly comparable to Sheik Hilali saying in Australia that "the uncovered meat is the problem.",20867,20646437-601,00.html

Anna McM said...

It doesn't need to be comparable to the words of Sheik Hilali to be a problem. Implying that women walking home alone/wearing short skirts/drinking/whatever get raped in part because of their own foolishness discourages victims from coming forward.

stargazer said...

ben, my response to sheikh al-hilaly's comments can be found here:,
i suggest you have a read.

as anna says, by using language like this that implies blame for women, there are two problems. the first, as anna says, is that women in such situations are unlikely to come forward because they might believe they won't be treated sympathetically or because of the shame they feel of being so "stupid". the second is that it takes focus away from where it should be: on the offender. he's the one who needs to change his behaviour and attitudes.

anyway, for the rest of you, i don't quite feel up to facing mr hermann by myself. so i've left a message with the ethnic liaison person here (only because i already know him and he's a really nice guy). hopefully he'll help me with organising a meeting. if there are any other hamiltonians that would like to be involved with this, that would be very much appreciated!

Ben R said...

"second is that it takes focus away from where it should be: on the offender. he's the one who needs to change his behaviour and attitudes."

Actually I think he's the one who needs to be castrated but that's another point..