The University of British Columbia in Vancouver has been plagued by a series of sexual assaults. All the victims have been female, and all have been attacked late at night while walking by themselves. They have identified their attacker as being a white male, in his early twenties, with a slim build. Though he has not seriously caused physical harm to any women -- yet -- he continues to terrorize women.
The news programs have covered this story energetically. Extra police and RCMP officers are on scene, and an on-campus program in which walking companions are provided to co-eds at night has quadrupled in numbers. Still the attacks continue and women are warned not to be out alone at night.
As the incidents continued, prompting further restrictions upon and warnings to campus women, I began to reconsider the methods being used to find the attacker.
I'm all for protecting women. Please hear that. But I think there's something inherently incomplete in the process of trying to catch an attacker by removing access to his target of choice.
At UBC, every lone male is a potential attacker, yet it is only women who are being escorted. Why not accompany all single men on campus after dark?
Not only does this place responsibility on possible perpetrators rather than on potential victims, but it changes the dynamic completely. What a powerful statement it would be for men to stand in solidarity with female students by walking escorted as well.
A single woman roaming the campus after dark is not the problem. A single MAN at night has proven to be very much a problem. Surely if the university mandated that no one was to be out at night solo, the person causing the issue would be far easier to detect. Isn't that so?
If you are male, would you agree to this? Why or why not? If you are female, what is your response to this proposal?
The campus remains on high alert, with many people working diligently to restore safety and order. They deserve commendation and support. Rethinking the paradigm of male aggressor/female victim may lead to more effective tactics for these dedicated individuals to catch the predator while preserving the safety and independence of his potential targets.
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