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Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Pulls Ad That Blames Women For Getting Date-Raped

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"Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Pulls Ad That Blames Women For Getting Date-Raped"

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The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board provoked an enormous backlash by airing ads that tell women who are date-raped that they have only themselves and their friends to blame. The ad was part of a $600,000 campaign aimed at curbing excessive drinking.

After hearing from hundreds of rape victims that the ads were extremely upsetting, even traumatizing, the board has decided to pull them:

The ads send the message that women are not only at fault for getting themselves raped—a societal bias reflected in and re-enforced by too many court decisions—it’s your fault if your friend gets raped, too.

Last night, after receiving hundreds of phone calls and hundreds of email complaints, the PLCB has yanked the ads.

“We feel very strong, and still do, that when we entered the initial discussion about doing a campaign like this it was important to bring the most difficult conversations about over-consumption of alcohol to the forefront and all of the dangers associated with it—date rape being one of these things,” says PLCB spokesperson Stacey Witalec.

“That being said, due to the number of concerns that we heard about that specific ad, and the victims especially that we heard from talking about how the image … made them feel victimized all over again, we felt it was prudent to pull it.”

The board undoubtedly had good intentions when they launched their campaign, but there are better ways to go about it. As Jezebel pointed out, “Shock tactics aren’t necessary to increase awareness of the possibility of rape. We know what can happen after a night of drinking.”

And their blame-the-victim message reinforced the difficulty prosecuting rapists in the state. It’s easier to get away with sexual assault in Pennsylvania than anywhere else in the country because it’s the only state that doesn’t allow expert testimony in rape cases. Because experts aren’t allowed to educate jurors about the behaviors of sexual assault victims and assailants, “jurors are left making judgments based on the biases perpetuated in the PLCB ad.”

“We’ve had several cases where juries have acquitted serial rapists because they felt the victims’ behavior after the assault was counterintuitive,” says Deborah Harley, chief of the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit of the District Attorney’s Office.

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