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It’s 2019. So why are UK police still publicly victim-blaming women?

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Jessica Rapana
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Nottinghamshire Police apologised for the “clumsy” post that suggested women who walk alone at night are the problem.

You could be forgiven for thinking that in 2019, two years after the Me Too movement went viral, the world would be enlightened enough to stop blaming women for “taking a risk” by walking alone at night.

Yet, it seems Nottinghamshire Police didn’t quite get the memo that women are not the problem here.

The police force has been accused of “victim blaming” over a social media post, which has since been deleted, suggesting women should not be “taking a risk” by walking alone at night.

The post described an incident in which a woman in the area had been walking around 11pm when she noticed a man following her. When the man quickened his pace and pulled up his hood and scarf to cover his face, she phoned her husband and ran home. Thankfully, the man then disappeared.

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“Taking a risk when it comes to walking alone at night is not one of those things we should be doing,” the post went on to say.

“Women who walk alone especially at night are at risk of harassment, or even physical assault.”

The post also noted that, even with the “best planning”, there would be times when women needed to walk alone after dark, “whether it’s to your car after a late night at the office, heading to our car after a late-night store run, or walking home from the public bus station”.

Understandably, the message sparked online furore, with many calling out the suggestion that women were the problem, rather than the men who followed them.

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Victim blaming: "May I politely remind you it's 2019"

“May I politely remind you it is 2019 and we no longer blame women for whatever crime has been committed against them?’ one woman wrote on Facebook.

Another added: “When I read this, all I feel is fear and am reminded again, that as a woman I’m not supposed to be in public spaces.”

Helen Voce, chief executive of Nottingham Women’s Centre, told the BBC the Facebook post “felt like a 1980s thing”, adding that she could not believe it had come from police.

“It is so condescending, blaming women for going out and it’s so sexist about us coming back from the shops,” Voce said.

She also thought it was “ridiculous” to make women feel like it was their fault and that any good advice should be directed towards men on how to make women feel safer at night. “It’s men that need to change their behaviour,” she said.

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesperson said: “We recognise this was a clumsy attempt to communicate an incident with the underlying intention of keeping people safe.

“The post was swiftly deleted as soon as it was brought to our attention, feedback has been provided and we would apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.”

Images: Getty

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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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