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Rape Crisis Network demands removal of 'victim blaming' advertising campaign

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The Rape Crisis Network Ireland has said that the Diageo-funded 'Role Models' campaign "blames victims of sexual violence for the crimes that have been committed against them".

The RCNI Director Clíona Saidléar said in a statement that the Diageo/Role-models advertisement featuring a young woman clearly upset had a "sinister inference... that the young girl has been attacked on her way home".

"The message is that it is her fault for being drunk... and her mother's fault for her own drinking habits".

"‘The belief that drunk girls are ‘asking for it’ is one that needs to be strongly challenged as it is one that we know perpetrators use to select and target their victims knowing this cultural attitude will mean they get away with it".

"The perpetrator is not in this picture. This is a harmful, regressive and hurtful message which targets the vulnerable. Survivors of sexual violence should never be used in this manner".

"The out-of-control campaign which started by asking women if they were ‘embarrassed’ while they were being photographed without their consent in a potentially compromising position, has now progressed  to blaming victims of rape for their own rape".

In response, The Stop Out Of Control Drinking Campaign said that the campaign has been "wildly misunderstood and misinterpreted". Chairman of the campaign, Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said he was "sure we will run it again".

"It was intended to be provocative. The ads are intended to start a discussion.

"We are not going to change a culture we are afraid to confront."

Mr Finlay added that the figure  in the background was the girl's younger sister and not her mother, and that the young girl was simply "worse for wear" after a night out, not a sexual assault victim. He said that the image would be amended to make it clearer that it was a child at the door.

"One element of what we need to do is persuade people that their behaviour influences others - their peers and their siblings".

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