The idea that clothing contributes to rape is false — and incredibly common.
The idea that clothing has something to do with sexual aggression is global and persistent. In 1999, the Supreme Court of Appeals in Rome ruled that a woman in jeans could not be raped because a rapist could not forcibly remove her pants. The police question sexual assault victims about their clothing as if the length of their skirt is an indication of her consent. It’s a common argument that always boils down to the same nonsense: if the victims were different, they wouldn’t have been intimidated. It’s a comforting myth that ensures it’s easy to pretend that sexual assault only happens to people who make poor decisions. It is also a myth that has been completely debunked by the Department of Justice, RAINN, and many other organizations. A study by the Federal Commission on Violent Crimes showed that only 4.4 percent of all reported rapes involved “provocative behavior” on the part of the victim. (In murder cases, it’s 22 percent.) It also found that the majority of convicted rapists did not remember what their victims were wearing. Studies show that women with passive personalities who tend to dress in layers, with pants and long sleeves and with a high neck, are actually more likely to be raped. In one study, 1 in 3 college students said that she would force someone to have sex if she could get away with it, and that she had nothing to do with clothing.
#DontTellMeHowToDress campaign, is an initiative led by local celebrities and activists to challenge social attitudes around sexual violence and the treatment of victims. “Sexual harassment and assault is a very big issue in our society, but it’s an issue no one really talks about,” said Sirinya Bishop, a well-known model and actress. “There are many myths, stereotypes and a culture of victim blaming when it comes to women who have been assaulted. Women who do report sexual harassment and violence tell us they need better support by friends, colleagues, families, and communities.”