How to avoid rape

Gabbie Tatad (The Philippine Star) - July 24, 2015 - 10:00am

The Internet remembers a lot of crazy things — the glory days of Lindsay Lohan, the time when looking like Paris Hilton was actually a thing, flame wars from LiveJournal, and stupid infographics that should have died a miserable death before they ever came to be. The latter is in reference to an infographic released by the Philippine National Police entitled “Rape Prevention Tips,” which has been unearthed and spread via social media over the last couple of weeks.

And how, pray tell, does the PNP recommend we avoid such a heinous crime, one that we potential victims apparently carry the burden of preventing? The list is long, but here are some gems worth remembering:

“If you ever find yourself in a rape situation or potential rape situation, try to escape your attacker.”

Because while it’s one thing to recognize that you’re in danger, you may need the additional reminder that escaping said potential harm is actually necessary. After all, who knows? Your fight or flight response could be seriously fried.

“Most of the sexual attacks are followed by some visual signs. They may be in the form of the look, the talk, and the attack. When the sign itself is first observed, try to leave the place.”

Again, here is a friendly reminder to escape, but only after staying for the actual attack to assess the visual signs. Call me a grammar nazi, but for helpless, hapless damsels in distress, this could be seriously misleading.

“Do not get into an elevator alone with someone you do not know. If you find yourself alone with a stranger, stay near the exit doors of the elevator and within reach of the control panel.”

Also, when starting a new job, don’t make friends. Don’t get on Tinder. Don’t talk to the salesperson even if you are dying for assistance. Slip your money to the cashier without saying a word. In fact, don’t talk to anyone you don’t know ever, and let’s forget that one glaring fact that most rapes are committed by someone you actually know. Just assume that every stranger is a lurking would-be rapist and drive yourself crazy thinking that every confined space is an invitation to be raped.

“Rapists generally tend to attack women who appear to be walking along aimlessly or who do not seem very active. Thus, by being confident and walking erect and purposefully, you can deter a rapist.”

But also, if you could avoid being a woman altogether, that would be great. Because you’ve been raised with a measure of shame as a woman — pull up that neckline, lengthen that skirt, stop looking like meat for men to simply take for their own enjoyment. Because they will and they can, and they’re animals without any self-restricting capabilities, and dressing without their weaknesses in mind is really just asking for it. Remember: it’s your job to make sure that you don’t get raped.

“As a woman, you can always carry pepper spray with you.”

Because guys don’t get raped, right? After all, you’re a guy; you could always just throw a punch, then shoot hoops afterward and drink beer. (Insert manly grunt here.)

“While traveling, don’t try to pick up hitchhikers.”

Don’t just try. Do. You can do anything you set your mind to.

 “You can also use anything in your hand like a pen, pencil, vegetables, mobile phone, hot tea, bag, umbrella, etc. [sic] as an emergency self-defense tool to escape from the attacks.”

(Searches through tote bag): “Damn, forgot my giant eggplant. Oh well, at least I have this thermos full of hot tea in here.” Yeah, that’s a daily scenario I can imagine.

“Scream loudly for ‘help’ in case of worst attack.”

Do not, under any circumstances, try the words “saklolo,” “tulong,” “rape,” or any such variants. It’s like a safe word. Anything other than “help” could deter potentially helpful people from coming along.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: the PNP was just trying to be helpful towards women who walk alone down dark streets and refuse to call friends to be picked up and are generally just asking to be sexually violated. Why must you nitpick on such a well-meaning infographic? Also, if I may, a follow-up: was that sarcasm? (Yes. Yes it was.)

The problem with things like this is that it says nothing about the consequences for rapists, about the lengths the police would go to when faced with a case of rape. It assumes that only women are raped, and that it is the victims’ own doing that landed them in a situation where they could be raped.

In 2013, 7,409 rape incidents were reported to the PNP, which means that every 72 minutes, someone somewhere was being violated. And what about those who don’t have the courage to come forward? How are we helping them by insinuating that what happened to them could have been avoided if their neckline was different, if they walked along a different street, or if they just had an umbrella in their hand at the time of the incident? This is an incident victims will have to live with and live through for the rest of their lives, and telling them it could have been so easily avoided is not only a disservice to them, but validates those who violated them.

We have to look to the perpetrators, to see what it is that’s made them tick, to see what it is that told them it was okay to cross that line of human decency. We have to hold responsible those who choose to commit the crime and no one else. Now if we’re still hell-bent on coming up with some infographic on rape prevention, it should only really say this: “Whatever she’s wearing, she’s not asking for it. If he says no, it means no. Rape is never an option. Don’t rape.”

Now that that’s sorted, if the PNP could get to work on that murder and mugging prevention infographic, it would be really appreciated.

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