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“R u asking for it?”: Avon and Somerset police apologise for “totally unacceptable” leaflets

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe
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Avon and Somerset police have issued a formal apology after handing out leaflets about personal safety called "R U ASKING FOR IT?"

The leaflets were given to students at North Bristol post 16 Centre during a sexual consent talk titled "Only yes means yes" and the teenagers were left shocked by their "horrifying" message.

Kizzie Tims, 16, one of the 50 students who attended the talk, told The Bristol Post, "The leaflet was about personal safety – robberies and muggings – but was not appropriate when taking about rape.

"It was not the most professional talk and at this age we are very sensitive about these sorts of issues. A lot of people began shouting and others got teary about it."

A 17-year-old boy who also attended the talk said, "I personally could not believe my eyes when I received my leaflet, thinking it was somehow an ironic joke? I was assured that it was in fact very real, much to my disgust."

He also hinted at the content of the talk being just as upsetting as the leaflet branding, adding, "Victim blaming arose rather quickly from the police, telling girls that they shouldn’t drink on nights out and suggesting that it was more the victim’s job to prevent the attack from happening."

And Tims added that she was so appalled by the content of the talk that she felt compelled to stand up in front of her classmates and explain that neither alcohol nor clothing caused rape - only rapists did.

The apology from Avon and Somerset police described the leaflets, which were printed nearly 10 years ago in 2008, as "inappropriate" and added that they had since been destroyed.

Chief Inspector Marie Wright, force lead for rape and sexual assault, was quoted in the apology as saying, "Any suggestion that a victim of rape or sexual assault can ever, in any way, be to blame is totally unacceptable."

The force are now pushing their "This is not an excuse" campaign to highlight that victims are never to blame for rape.

"Our stance couldn’t be clearer and the students were right to challenge the incorrect message," added Wright.

A poster for the "This is not an excuse" campaign

A poster for the "This is not an excuse" campaign