A Polish NGO apologises for using teen handbook that instructs young girls to be nice in order to avoid sexual assault and harassment

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An impressionable young teen jotting down notes from a text book.
An impressionable young teen jotting down notes from a text book.

Rape culture is an epidemic. And it’s everywhere.

We see it in the way women are too afraid to come forward to speak up about their assault and we see it in the responses of those who mock survivors when they bravely step forward in the hopes of finding healing and helping other victims of rape and sexual assault.

We see it in the way that men in power are mostly protected and we certainly see it in the way women are subjected to the kind of questioning that’s designed to make them look and feel guilty or doubt their stories.

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And in yet another appalling instance that showcases just how prevalent these damaging attitudes are, The Institute for Integrated Prevention, a Polish Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), recently had to apologise for using a teen handbook that instructs young girls to be “nice” and “respectful” towards their superiors in order to avoid being raped.

But that’s not even the worst.

According to BBC.com, the textbook, Zycie na maksa, which means Life to the Max, also goes on to add that young girls should not dress provocatively and avoid wearing miniskirts, because not only does it make you come across as being frivolous, but you’ll also be to blame for being harassed because you’re “asking for it.”

READ MORE: Don't teach girls how not to be raped - teach boys not to rape

A damaging rhetoric that we’ve unfortunately had to hear one too many times. It’s a narrative that victim blames and shames women at the same time. 

And it implies that women should be held accountable for the actions of their would-be rapists and harassers. Not only that, but it assumes that “good girl” behaviour automatically means that this would only happen to women who are behaving badly.

But let’s stop that in its tracks right now. Being nice and wearing skimpy clothing have got nothing to do with being raped. And the sooner we stop perpetuating this myth, the better.   

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I hate bringing up the obvious here, but if people are using such vile tactics to place the blame on the shoulders of women, then what about the cases of children who are raped? Or old women being attacked in their houses? 

I wish I could say I was surprised that people are focusing on a lack of clothing as being a reason that leads to rape, but if a ruling could be made about a woman not being able to be raped because she was wearing jeans (“it’s harder to remove, so therefore that must mean she consented”), then it’s easy to see why attitudes like this are so prevalent to this day. 

Being polite and demure has never stopped anyone from being raped. 

And using guidebooks like this as an educational tool is not only damaging to impressionable young teen girls, but it also teaches boys that if women are dressing provocatively, they don’t have to be responsible or held accountable for succumbing to “temptation.”

The NGO, which focuses on youth development, has since revealed that no more copies of this book will be used and that it never should have been approved in the first place.

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