Lancashire Constabulary have begun a campaign to try to reduce instances of rape, called Operation Focus.
This includes short DVD which will be played in town centres on large screens as well as posters and bluetooth messages, and a radio campaign.
It appears from the website that they are targeting men and women equally. There is a short video aimed at men which you can see on the website (warning: may be triggering).
It shows a young man reflecting sadly on the evening. In flashbacks it shows him drinking in a night club, dancing with a girl, they then go out into the alleyway and kiss. The man starts to take it further and she screams “No, no, stop it, get off me.” But he doesn’t stop. The video ends with the words “No consent, no sex”. It then shows the man in prison.
There is a video aimed at women, featuring the same woman. It shows exactly the same sequence of events.
I watched this, totally expecting it to end with one of those usual victim-blaming messages about women not drinking too much and not making yourself vulnerable that are usually put about, like this one which slemslempike describes as “victim-blaming shit”.
But I was shocked. It just ends with the words: “Support is available” and a telephone number.
I like the fact that there is a video aimed at men in this campaign. After all, only rapists can prevent rape. I also like the fact that these videos don’t seem to be blaming women for having a drink.
But I wonder, will this message get lost?
For example, check out this local paper’s approach to the story:
DVDs warning young women about their alcohol intake will be shown in Preston nightclubs in a bid to reduce the risk of being raped.
It’s only right at the bottom of the article where we find out that men are also being targeted, and it’s almost mentioned in passing.
Even the Police Oracle website prioritises the anti-drink messages for women as they discuss the campaign:
Late night bars and clubs across Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre will also be helping to deliver the message of Lancashire Police’s county-wide Operation Focus campaign. Staff at the venues are being briefed about the initiative, which is aimed at highlighting the potential dangers of excessive alcohol in a bid to reduce the chances of people becoming victims of sexual assaults.
Later in the article there’s a reference to “the effect that alcohol can have on their decision making ability – an effect that can have life changing consequences.”
It’s not clear enough if this is referring to men or women’s decision making ability. Is this a veiled reference to young men who rape after drinking? If it is, it’s not clear enough.
It’s hard to tell for sure without seeing the posters or hearing the radio ads.
But this does seem like a good campaign, actually targeting the potential perpetrators, and supporting the victims.
Is this the kind of campaign we’d like to see more of?