Sunday, February 7, 2010

If you didn't want to be assaulted you shouldn't have looked assaultable!

Try to guess what Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland is talking about when he advises, ''Don't display your iPods, don't display your valuable watch, don't display your valuable jewellery. Try to look as poor as you can." Is he cautioning Australian tourists in foreign countries with high crime rates, perhaps?

Nope. This was part of his speech at an international students' safety forum, in light of recent assaults on Indian members of the community, some of which have been racially-motivated.

Look, it is one thing to take steps to ensure one's safety when in public. Most reasonable people do indeed take every possible precaution to prevent harassment, robbery, violence, victimisation.

But it is another to make demands that people must change their entire lifestyles in order not to be victimised - where they live, when they travel, where they work. And I am getting so sick of hearing it all. Whenever the news is playing in the background about another attack or attempted murder on an international student, I hear the same old questions over and fucking over again.

"Well, why was he/she walking to the isolated train station/through the park at night/on the street/etc?" I can't answer for every case out there, but I have to take public transport late at night because I work in hospitality and finish shifts at 11pm-ish, can't afford to take $25 taxi rides every time, walking isn't an option and at this stage neither is getting a car. And I get the alarmed "but girlies shouldn't be on the train late at night!" schtick from people all the time. What do you want me to do, wait for a fricken' pumpkin to turn into a horse-drawn carriage? I take as many precautions to ensure my own safety that I can: I am extra alert when walking the streets, I sit near women on the tram to give the illusion I am not travelling alone, I stick to well-lit areas and always carry my keys in my hand. But shit can happen, and if it ever did the first thing I'd hear is a lecture about "being more careful", as if I were running down King Street naked but for a bikini made of $100 notes screaming, "COME AND GET ME YOU PUSSY C&%TS!" rather than a member of public going about her damn daily business. And it shits me off.

"Why didn't he/she live somewhere else if it was that dangerous? Why did he/she move into that dodgy poor area?" Well, I don't know, probably because living somewhere else was not a viable option, methinks! I'm pretty sure if you had the choice between living in a dangerous-as-fuck area and moving somewhere safer, you'd lean towards the "safe" side of things! Maybe that seedy suburb is all they can damn well afford. Or they don't know the city very well. Or they are moving in with friends/family already established there. I know it definitely doesn't mean they want to be victimised in their own neighbourhood, as most people generally do not want that!

"Why were they working at 7-Eleven/driving cabs/working the graveyard shift at Hungry Jack's/as a bussie at that club knowing it would involve shift work, late-night commuting, violent clientele, and possible armed robbery attempts?" The same reason other people get their various jobs, I should imagine! Because the pay cheque outweighs the other issues, or they can't find anywhere else that will hire them, or they don't have the skill sets to enter a different industry, or they are part of a family-owned business or partnership, or it's close to home, or they have no choice in which shifts they are allocated, or because they like it.

Everybody has the right to feel safe; and just because they have a shiny watch, or drive cabs, or take the last tram at night, or live in a shithole, does not mean they "kinda/sorta" had it coming when they are violently attacked. Telling people to "look as poor as they can", and not show off items that could draw the attention of muggers at night, well that's one thing. That's all fine and dandy.

Except you can tick all the items on the Police Commissioner's little safety list, and still be the victim of a robbery, assault, rape or murder. And what then? There are things about some people that draw the attention of predators and, unlike iPods, can't just be hidden. Gender. Race. Size. Sexuality. Disability. Profession. And people will go to amazing lengths to blame the victim, because it's easier to jump on something they did "wrong", rather than admit it could just as easily happen to you, or admit that predators are actual members of your community, not just scary opportunistic shadow people.

I don't even have an answer here, I'm just sick of hearing all this shit about what you should do to protect yourself, and if you get stabbed on the street at night, well what the hell were you doing there in the first place? Some people are just fucked up and think it's ok to hurt other people just because they're there. And the ultimate safety tip - BE INVISIBLE! - well it's not really viable, is it?

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with this post. I don't see how the victims need to change when its those that commit the crime that need to go down.

    I walk home late every night after midnight with my iPod and I'm usually drunk as all shit stumbling home at 4am on weekends. I've never been mugged or attacked and I don't think I ever should.

    These recent attacks are really fucked up and shouldn't happen at all.