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23rd Jan 2017

The many reasons why these ‘anti-rape shorts’ should not be allowed on sale

Locking up a women’s pelvis will not prevent rape culture.

Have you heard about the two new types of ‘anti-rape shorts’ that have hit the market?

The first of these, AR Wear (AR stands for Anti-Rape), are a set of shorts, trousers, and underwear which are difficult to tear and remove, acting as a supposed barrier for potential attackers.

The second product was created by a German designer, following a number of sexual assaults which took place in the city of Cologne.

This particular pair of underwear is fitted with a lock which needs a code to be removed.

The original product ‘AR wear’ was first advertised in 2013, but with the news of the new German version, discussions about the original anti-rape clothing have resurfaced.

The idea, in theory, might seem positive to some people – this is an item of clothing that claims that it helps to keep women safe – but there are numerous flaws with the concept.

It’s the equivalent of a new-age chastity belt.

Locking up a women’s pelvis will not prevent rape culture.

”While the manufacturers’ intentions seem to be good, it seems quite backward looking that the proposed answer to rape would be to lock the innocent party and intended victim into a modern chastity belt,” Noeline Blackwell, CEO of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said.

It also only prevents one type of rape.

Sexual assault has many forms, and not all occur by removing a person’s shorts or underwear.

“They certainly don’t even begin to prevent against the many other forms of sexual assault that a person may suffer which can so severely impact their lives,” Blackwell added.

“And they seem to only be designed for women whereas we know that anyone can be raped.”

It focuses on the wrong person.

On what occasions should a woman decide to wear rape prevention clothing? Should we choose to wear them on days we expect to be raped? Should they become part of our everyday outfits?

While a person can be aware of danger and learn about safety, no one should have to prepare for rape.

“They reinforce the idea that the victim should protect herself against rape, rather than working to ensure that it is well understood everywhere that only a rapist is responsible for rape,” Blackwell explained.

It’s not always a stranger in an alley.

While the stereotype or overused trope in films and TV may be that women get attacked by complete strangers on a dark night, this is clearly not always the case.

“It promotes the idea that rape is carried out by strangers, whereas all the Irish evidence points to the conclusion that less than 25% of rapes are committed by strangers. Most are committed by those known to the victim – including their intimate partners,” Blackwell said.

Many of those who are raped do not suspect that friends, family members or partners would ever be violent, should women wear the shorts around everyone at all times, just in case?

It’s a form of victim blaming. 

The attitude that rape is somehow anyone’s fault other than the rapist needs to stop, and shorts like this will not help.

Will women be told ‘well, why weren’t you wearing your rape prevention clothes that day?’

”There is indeed a too-prevalent culture that victims bring rape on themselves,” Noeline said.

A recent Eurobarometer poll on 25 November 2016 found that 21% of the Irish people surveyed thought that it was alright to have sex without consent in some cases.

Examples of those certain circumstances included; wearing provocative clothing (9%), going home with someone (9%) and even walking home alone at night (7%).

”Sex without consent is always rape. Some people thought that a person who had taken drink or drugs, or was dressed in a certain way, or walked down the wrong street could be forced to have sex. All that is wrong. Are we now to add a category of failing to wear anti-rape shorts? The real problem is how to deal with people thinking sex without consent is acceptable.”