Forum: Culture of blaming victim in sexual assault must end

Women are statistically more likely to be victims of sexual crime or domestic violence.

According to a 2019 survey jointly conducted by non-profit organisation United Women Singapore and market research firm Ipsos, three in 10 Singaporeans say they have experienced domestic abuse, or know someone who has. Despite this, 40 per cent of Singaporeans are apathetic to the issue (Do more to prevent violence against women, support victims: President, March 20).

I have seen cases that made it into the news and were met with "if it was serious, why didn't she leave?". The culture of victim blaming and placing the onus on women to take extra steps to secure their safety should stop.

Several studies indicate victims of domestic violence take an average of seven tries to leave an abusive relationship, often because the abuser exerts physical, emotional or financial control over them.

Some victims of sexual assault end up dating their abuser as a subconscious means of trying to regain control over the incident.

There was vast criticism of a victim in a recent case where the accused allegedly used criminal force to outrage her modesty. Many commenters attacked her morals and character for being out late at night, for consorting with the accused despite having a boyfriend and for "leading" the accused on.

Why not criticise the accused for allegedly inviting the victim under the pretence of "studying" and then trying to test her boundaries? Regardless of one's views, flirting or "leading someone on" is not a crime.

Victims' actions do not invite blame. It is not our prerogative to question their choices.

It takes courage for victims to come forward - the least we can do is support them.

Kristie Koo

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