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Outrage over 'victim-blaming' rape posters published by the government

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An online petition has been launched to destroy copies of an "appalling" poster published by the government which appears to blame victims of rape and sexual assault.

The poster shows a photo of a crying woman alongside the slogan: "one in three reported rapes happens when the victim has been drinking".

It was launched in 2005 as part of the Home Office "Know Your Limits" campaign, with the backing of the NHS. The posters were used for two years between 2005 and 2007. They're no longer published or supplied by government but copies still exist in surgeries, hospitals and universities across the UK, and are widely available online.

Cambridge University student Jack May called for a total ban on all copies of the posters in a petition launched on Change.org last week.

The poster was launched by the NHS and the Home Office in 2005

The campaign has already attracted over 48,000 signatories and includes an open letter to Home Secretary Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

It brands the poster "a blatant and appalling case of victim blaming by our own Government, putting the onus on the victim rather than the perpetrator".

"When horrible crimes like rape or sexual assault happen, those who suffer turn to what they see as trusted authorities - the NHS for immediate help and the Home Office for justice," it reads. "That's what makes this poster so hurtful. These two great national institutions betray the trust of the thousands of victims affected every year by blaming them for something they were in no way responsible for."

Unsurprisingly, Twitter has been quick to respond to the petition with hundreds of people expressing their outrage over the posters:

"Implicating victims in their own rape is completely unacceptable - rape is always the fault of the perpetrator, and no matter what/whether the victim has been drinking, what they are wearing, what the perpetrator thinks may have been implied, rape is never their fault," petition creator Jack, who is studying English at Gonville and Caius College, told Cambridge News.

"We need to create a culture of honest, open consent, with all blame landed firmly on the shoulders of those who don’t play by the rules of consent. This poster hinders much more than it helps."

A Slutwalk march through London in 2012, demanding that women not be blamed for rape

A government spokesperson said the campaign was focused on binge drinking among 18 to 24-year-olds and was created in response to alcohol statistics, not violence against women and girls.

Click here to sign the petition and get Jeremy Hunt to ban these offensive posters for good. To read more about victim-blaming in cases of sexual assault, click here.

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