‘Men’s rights’ group defends posters claiming women lie about rape

EDMONTON – A so-called “men’s rights” group is defending its recent poster campaign that is sparking national outrage for claiming some women lie about being raped.

The posters were a response to the ‘Don’t be that guy” campaign that aims to educate young men on alcohol’s role in sexual assault and define consensual sex.

Men’s Rights Edmonton issued a statement on its website taking responsibility for its “Don’t be that girl” campaign that was highly criticized by police, city officials and women’s groups for sending the wrong message.

“Just because you regret a one night stand doesn’t mean it wasn’t consensual,” the posters read.

“Women who drink are not responsible for their actions… especially when alcohol is involved,” another poster said.

The University of Alberta ordered the removal of the posters because they violated the school’s posting policies.

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Alberta’s minister of human services, MLA Dave Hancock, denounced the campaign on Twitter, saying it was appalling, dangerous and indefensible.

However, Men’s Rights Edmonton defended the posters Thursday, saying there is nothing wrong with advocating against both rape and false rape accusations. The group believes the original campaign was hateful towards men and insinuates that all men are rapists.

“We want rapists punished for their crimes. We also want the system to punish those that make false rape claims. How more can you trivialize real victims of rape than by making a false rape claim?” the group said, adding that some studies suggest there are as many false rape reports as real rape reports.

But according to police, that claim is completely false.

Acting Insp. Sean Armstrong said there is no data that suggests false rape claims are common or dilute real reports of sexual assault.

He said after 4.5 years of working as a sexual assault detective, he had only seen one false report.

“And I dealt with numerous files; many, many, many files. So they’re extremely rare,” he said.

The original campaign began in Edmonton after police saw a spike in alcohol-facilitated sex assaults in the city. The eye-catching campaign was subsequently picked up by Vancouver police and organizers hope other cities will do the same.

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Statistics overwhelmingly show there is a need for increased education surrounding consent, especially when alcohol is involved.

According to Battered Women’s Support Services, studies involving 18- to 25-year-old men revealed that 48 per cent of the men did not consider it rape if a woman is too drunk to know what is going on.

Another study from the Canadian Women’s Foundation survey found that 19 per cent of respondents think that women actually encourage sexual assault by being drunk.

The survey also revealed 15 per cent of Canadians believe women encourage sexual assault by flirting and 11 per cent think women can provoke sexual assault when they wear short skirts.

Battered Women’s Support Services said that targeting a woman’s behaviour contributes to a culture of victim-blaming and may deter others from reporting rapes.

The idea that some women lie about rape to justify regretful behaviour further muddies the waters.

“We’re really angry and disturbed by the posters,” said Karen Smith, executive director of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton. “People just don’t lie about that.”

She cited national statistics as evidence that false reports are incredibly rare.

“One to two percent of sexual assaults reported to the police would be false. And that would be the same for any other crime that would be reported to the police.”

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In 2009, there were nearly 21,000 sexual assaults reported to police, according to Statistics Canada. However, that number doesn’t reflect the number of actual sex assaults, as less than one in 10 attacks are reported.

StatsCan said that 97 per cent of people accused of sexual assault are young men and 55 per cent are known to the victims.

With files from Patricia Kozicka and Laurel Clark