A government poster against alcohol consumption in the UK has sparked a worldwide outrage as the poster seems to be blaming the rape victim rather than the perpetrator.
The black-and-white alcohol awareness poster features the image of a rape victim crying, with the line "one in three reported rapes happens when the victim has been drinking", putting the onus on the victim rather than the rapist.
Although it ran as part of the NHS and Home Office's Know Your Limits campaign in 2006, and are no longer published or supplied by government, these posters can still be seen in NHS hospitals, GP surgeries and universities.
NHS's "Anti-Rape" poster. . Honourable intentions poor execution. pic.twitter.com/pwvxnGVvsr
— Cameron Curtis (@UncleCurtis_) July 30, 2014
This message is not consistent with the NHS' own guidelines on 'Help after rape and sexual assault', in which they say "If you have been sexually assaulted, remember that it wasn't your fault. It doesn't matter what you were wearing, where you were or whether you had been drinking. A sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator."
In July, Cambridge University student Jack May called for a total ban on all copies of the posters in the petition - HS & Home Office: Remove all copies of this poster and stop victim blaming - launched on Change.org, in which he directly wrote to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Theresa May.
In the open letter, the second-year English student at Gonville and Caius College says: "This poster is a horrible and unforgivable instance of victim blaming, and one that is totally unacceptable, especially when it originates from two supposedly reputable public services - the Home Office and the NHS. The existence of this poster tarnishes a well-intentioned campaign - the 'Alcohol: Know Your Limits' campaign - and is contradictory to the NHS' own advice on coping with rape or sexual assault."
The petition already has over 101,563 supporters but still requires 48,437 more signatures. Click here to sign.
Following May's petition, many have expressed their outrage and have been openly recruiting people to sign the petition. They demand that the government should stop blaming the victims as well as the circumstances, and take a stand against the rapists instead.
— Amanda Ramsay (@AmandaRamsay) August 2, 2014
The NHS campaign is not only misguided but utterly false. Only one thing causes rape and it's not alcohol. It's rapists. #ibelieveyou
— Pooka (@halfabear) August 2, 2014
That NHS rape poster keeps making me angry. Some rapes happen when the victim is drunk. Some when victim flirted. ALL when rapist RAPED. — Elizabeth (@Eliza_Do_Lots) July 31, 2014
— RamonYouseph (@RamonWrites) July 31, 2014
The Department of Health, on the other hand, has refused to apologise over the poster despite the massive outrage against it and clarified to Huffington Post that "This campaign is no longer used. Posters have not been in stock, or available on websites for several years."
May was alerted about this poster when Nottingham-based blogger Tracy tweeted it on 18 July.
— Tracy (@tracytruffles) July 18, 2014
Meanwhile, Twitter user @neverjessie became popular overnight when she made some alterations to the NHS poster and posted it with the comment: "Hey NHS, I fixed your poster." It has been retweeted almost 8,000 times and favourited by almost 5,000 users.
Hey, NHS, I fixed your poster. pic.twitter.com/xbCCfySYRg
— neverjessie (@neverjessie) August 1, 2014