Last week, a top general in the U.S. Air Force chocked up the military’s sexual assault epidemic to a “hook up” mentality. This week, Hong Kong’s security minister attributed rape to alcohol, saying that women should avoid drinking too much if they don’t want to get raped. It’s really touching to see how a culture of rape apology can transcend culture and geography.
On Tuesday, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok was presenting figures on crime in Hong Kong, which showed that rape cases increased b y 60% over the first quarter of the year. “All of these (rape) cases happened between those who know each other. They are either friends, close friends or they just met a few hours ago,” Lai explained. He also stated this gem:
“Some of these cases also involved the victims being raped after drinking quite a lot of alcohol. So I would appeal that young ladies should not drink too much.”
Wednesday, people took to social media to express their understandable outrage. “Hong Kong Secretary for Security advises that ‘young ladies not drink too much’ after rise in rapes. Or, gosh, maybe tell men not to rape?” tweeted Miss O’Kistic, who is based in Hong Kong. Noreen Mir wrote on the wall of SlutWalk Hong Kong group, “Doesn’t matter if the woman has been drinking or dressing ‘provocatively’. Rape and Sexual Violence against Women are never ok!!”
Women’s rights activists want Lai to retract his remarks and to stop attributing rape to the behavior of its victims. Linda Wong, executive director of Hong Kong’s Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women, said, “The underreporting of rape in Hong Kong is already very high and some of the reason is women feel that people will put all the blame on them…People aren’t being raped because they’re drunk or wear a sexy dress.”Liu Si-si, director of the Hong Kong Federation of Women’s Centers, stated “The remarks [Lai] made are proof of a culture that blames victims for doing something ‘wrong,’ like drinking.” Lai’s comments were “not the message that the government should be sending out,” she said.
Liu also worried that the attitude expressed by Lai could have a chilling effect on rape victims and discourage them from coming forward: “if he continues to say things like this, I worry women will be less likely to report crimes because they’ll be worried about being blamed.” Rape is already under-reported around the world and in Hong Kong. RainLily, a Hong Kong rape crisis center and NGO, believes that a woman is raped in Hong Kong every eight hours, making the actual number of victims more than 1,000, almost 10 times last year’s reported incidents.