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Sex education is a must to help change victim blaming culture, says Vera Baird QC

20th January 2017

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC has said that a key way in which we can combat deep-seated sexism around sexual consent and victim blaming within our culture is by the Government implementing statutory sex and relationship classes in all schools.

Her comments have been made following the findings of a survey, published today (Friday, 20 January), which reveal one in three women believe that those who get drunk or wear short skirts are partly to blame if they are sexually assaulted. One in five males also believe the same.

The survey of 8,000 British adults was conducted as part of a report commissioned by women’s rights charity, The Fawcett Society, who said the findings revealed ‘disturbingly high’ levels of hostility towards women.

Dame Vera, is a long-standing equality campaigner and  was recently appointed a Dame in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for services to women and equality.

She said: “These figures are shocking and I hope they are seen as yet another wake up call for the Government – we need to wipe out this blame culture once and for all and education for our young people is vital if we are to do so for the next generation.

“Just by knowing this blame culture exists undoubtedly makes it harder for victims to take the brave step to come forward and report what has happened to them. That means that people guilty of sexual abuse remain free to offend again. It is well known that sexual abusers are repeat offenders. They are clever and manipulative and will take advantage of anyone who they think they might be able to fit into this blame culture if they are arrested or called to account. People need to see through any notion that a victim is ever responsible for crime done against them. They are not.

“These figures again make very clear that educating young people about attitudes and consent must no longer be left to chance. It is obviously  so important  as sexual assault is  a very serious crime.

“In Northumbria we are determined to see an end to all violence against women and girls and I can’t stress enough that it is never the victims fault because of what they wear or how much they drink – if you think otherwise, you’re wrong. All victims will be taken seriously and our officers will work hard to ensure those who commit these crimes are locked up.”