September 4, 2009

It’s not your fault

Posted in Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (Rape Drugs), Men's role in sexual assault, Rape Culture, Victim Blaming at 8:57 pm by sacetalks

The Edmonton Sun recently published an article on drug-facilitated sexual assault, particularly in response to the heightened levels of binge drinking now that university and college campuses are soon open.

Here is my response:

I am writing in response to Tanya Enberg’s August 27th article entitled, “Frosh week activities put young adults at risk for some risky behaviour”.

In her article, Enberg quotes a psychologist who asserts that frosh week activities, including drinking alcohol, put young women at risk for sexual assault.  However, the problem with binge drinking is not that women get out of control, as Enberg’s article implies.  Rather, the problem with binge drinking is that offenders use being drunk as an excuse to sexually assault people.  Instead of scrutinizing the behaviour of offenders, however, Enberg judges the behaviour of survivors by implying that sexual assault happens because of how much survivors drink, rather than what offenders do.  Such victim-blaming is dangerous not only because it contributes to the myth that people are to blame for being sexually assaulted when they are drunk, but because it is inaccurate: our criminal code clearly states that no one can consent to sexual activity when drunk.  This means that if a young woman, like the kind that are discussed in the article, engage in binge-drinking activities, that woman cannot consent to sexual activity. If that woman complies with sexual activity, or is coerced into sexual activity, the offender is responsible for sexual assault.

I urge newspapers such as yours to shift the focus in sexual assault articles.

Instead of focusing on what women can do to protect themselves from being assaulted, we should be focusing on what we all must do to not sexually assault other people.  After all, the only person responsible for sexual assault is the offender, never the survivor.

Pragya Sharma
Director of Public Education
Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton



  1. […] It's not your fault « Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton […]

  2. monika said,

    Great response. Let’s put the focus/blame back where it belongs!

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