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20th Jan 2017

Viewers gobsmacked by ‘shocking’ Sky News discussion about sexual abuse towards women

This has deeply offended a lot of people

Nooruddean Choudry

This is not some Black Mirror satire, or vintage footage from a bygone era. This is the news in 2017.

On Friday morning, Sky News took a break from their rolling coverage of Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States to discuss a worrying survey concerning public attitudes towards women in the UK.

The Fawcett Society, a charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights, conducted research that showed that 20% of men aged 25-34 believed women’s equality had gone “too far”.

Even more shocking, the same survey found that 38% of all men and 34% of all women say women are “totally or partly to blame” for sexual assault.

That Sky News chose to air a frank discussion on the subject is entirely understandable and should be applauded for raising awareness about an important subject. But it was the nature of the exchange that left viewers gobsmacked.

Respected academic Professor Sarah Churchwell quite rightly argued that women should be able to wear whatever they like without accusations of culpability or blame for sexual attacks of any kind. This would seem a blindly obvious and uncontentious viewpoint.

But remarkably, both Sky anchor Stephen Dixon and weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar seemed to question Professor Churchwell’s stance in a manner that viewers at home found remarkable and beyond the pale.

A clip of the discussion is below:

The reaction was passionate, angry, and also reassuring. We can only hope that such attitudes are not the new ‘normal’ in this day and age…