It is a totally undeniable fact that had Jill Meagher accepted a lift home on that tragic day, she would have avoided the awful, terrible events that have transpired.
It’s completely and utterly unacceptable that there are despicable, violent scumbags on the streets who are deranged enough…
The problem is that while Jill was offered a lift home on that occasion, she shouldn’t have had any reason to think she needed one for such a short trip. The tips being doled out are patronising and imply that Jill was in some way to blame. The advice is stupid. The only ‘tip’ I’ve seen that would have actually saved her life (rather than just making it easier to find her dead body) is that you shouldn’t walk alone at night. This is virtually impossible to avoid. It could have just as easily been a night when Jill was not offered a lift. And it’s not even good advice for avoiding the vast majority of sexual assaults, since they tend to be perpetrated by someone known to the victim.
Women take precautions already. No one is saying to stop taking reasonable precautions. They are saying that you can’t allow this horrible attack to interfere with womens’ liberty, or it will encourage and legitimate the culture of victim blaming. Women are told again and again “this is how you avoid being raped”. Not once does anyone say “men, this is how you make women feel safe” or “this is how you avoid raping” (it is disturbing and may seem hard to believe but there is a scary amount of confusion about what rape even is.) The onus should be on men to stop behaving badly, but everyone says that’s impossible, they would rather have women being told to be escorted everywhere they go and don’t wear revealing clothing and don’t lead men on and so on ad infinitum, with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.
The result is not safer women. It is that women end up being blamed, convictions are impossible and dangerous men walk away unpunished.
I have a tag on my tumblr’s sidebar about this after doing criminal law and realising the enormous effect that victim blaming has. If you go to the bottom of it and read the summaries of the cases and the verdicts, maybe you’ll understand why fostering this attitude of “women need to be more careful” does more harm than good.
(tl;dr version here.)