When I set out to write this blog, I didn’t think I would be writing about rape quite so much. But when I started a feminist blog, I started paying more attention to gender issues, and the attitudes concerning rape stand out as a major problem. Victim blaming is much more common than I thought, even here in Finland, though we are supposedly a very equal society. The most depressing thing about victim blaming is that women do it as much as men.
A current example of it is the local dance school rape case. Latin American dance teachers raped women and teenage girls over the years without getting caught, until one girl told a school nurse what had happened, and the nurse contacted the police. When the case hit the news, dozens of women came forward to press charges against the dance teachers. The police have been able to find evidence to support some of the charges, though some will go unprosecuted due to lack of evidence.
According to the local paper, Aamulehti, victim blaming has been even more prominent than usual in the Salsa Pasión case. People write things like, “The victims have probably been flirting with the teachers. You can’t really accuse them if you flirt with them…” on internet message boards. I would understand such a sentiment from someone who supports the Sharia law but that a person who has been brought up in a Nordic country, in this day and age, believes that flirting entitles rape… unbelievable! Fortunately, Aamulehti takes a firm stand against victim blaming, and reminds that it’s the rapist who makes the choice to commit rape, not the victim.
When I first read about the Salsa Pasión rapes, I was horrified because of the number of victims and because it had all happened so close to home. I had often walked past that dance school, thinking it would be fun to try salsa one of these days. I never did, though, and when I saw the news about the rapes, I had that queasy “it could have been me” feeling. But the victim blaming feels even nastier. Isn’t rape traumatising enough for the victims, without getting the blame for it as well?