Hungarian police accused of victim-blaming in safety video
- The Guardian, Monday 24 November 2014 17.43 GMT
Women’s groups and civil rights organisations in Hungary have expressed anger over an official public safety video that appears to partially blame women for sexual assaults against them.
The video depicts three friends on a night out, dressing up, drinking, dancing and flirting, before one of them is approached by a hooded assailant outside a nightclub. It closes with a shot of the woman lying on the ground, and the slogan: “You are responsible, you can do something about it.”
The film was one of three commissioned by Baránya county police in a £9,000 crime-prevention initiative, and premiered at a cinema in Pécs, Hungary’s fifth largest city, last Friday.
“Official copies have been handed over to local school board representatives so that they can show it to students during crime prevention discussions,” the police said in a press release. “The films feature popular local actors and Fanni Weisz, an equal opportunities activist and the ‘official face’ of Pécs.”
The Association of Hungarian Women launched an online petition calling on the police to make public safety education videos that “address the offenders, not the victims”.
Éva Cserháti, of Hungary’s Women United Against Violence (NaNe), told the Guardian the video caricatured female sexuality “almost to the level of a soft-porn movie” and suggested “that women should not drink or have fun in a way that is not completely acceptable to men, because this sort of behaviour is provocation”. She said the video “intentionally spreads some of the worst ideas of an extremely socially conservative and patriarchal society”.
Cserháti said the portrayal of the offender was also problematic. “A stranger attacking a woman on a dark street is very rare. Most sexual assaults are committed by somebody known to the victim, often from their inner circle of friends and family,” she said. “This understanding of rape as a social phenomenon comes from the Socialist era, when the victim, or in some cases even the basic citizen was habitually blamed, and contrasted with the blamelessness of public institutions such as the police.”