It was yesterday that there was a tweet made by the official twitter of the Merseyside police that frankly shocked me but didn’t completely surprise me.
There was a tweet made towards the twitter account, made by two separate men claiming to have witnessed a ‘rape’ and wanting to report it – in reference to the loss of Sunderland to Everton in a game ending 6-2, and the repeated loss of Chelsea FC in recent weeks.
Already, the initial tweets are beyond problematic and highlight the laddish culture of rape that exists within the male dominated world of football. However, the most disturbing is the acknowledgement of this, and joking response by the Merseyside police, saying: ‘Just to confirm, there was no rape for me? Sunderland were caught with their pants down though’. They also responded to the Chelsea tweet, responding with: ‘Afraid not, it’s not a criminal offence to lose week in, week out’.
Rape is not a joke in any circumstance, and joking about it perpetuates rape culture. When the force that is there to protect rape victims openly jokes about rape in such a blase manner, it really is shameful and disgusting.
Statistics show that in cases of rape, only 1 out of 100 cases an offender ever convicted. Through various stages of victim blaming, and the ordeal of having to relive the assault in court, or even through lack of evidence, many victims pull out before fully prosecuting. The trend is to question and interrogate the victim, and the relationship between police and rape victims is notoriously a negative one.
Therefore, with such a public message of ridicule towards already vulnerable set of victims only further breaks trust. The police force have since apologised, but it still shows that the culture of rape in the environment where a victim should feel most safe is very much alive.
Suggesting losing at a game of football is in any way comparable to rape, and making light of Sunderland being ‘caught with their pants down’ just confirms the victim blaming nature permeating parts of the police force. It brings forward ideas of humiliation and shame for the victim and is a disturbing use of language in reference to rape – from a supposed force of lawful protection.
These tweets don’t in any way show promise to victims or future victims that they will be taken seriously and in no way blamed when going to the police to report an assault. If this idea of rape culture in any way permeates a police force, it’s a huge concern for vulnerable victims in their consequential fear of reporting and dealing with police officials when already extremely vulnerable. More needs to be done to reform the police force in their treatment of rape and its victims.
Rape is not ‘banter’ and the culture of blaming and interrogating rape victims is a surprisingly common occurrence, and the fact the police are perpetuating this sort of behaviour is once again another failure of police forces in protecting the vulnerable members of society,