In Depth

#HomeSafeSelfie: TFL campaign accused of victim-blaming

Campaign is intended to raise safety awareness, but campaigners say it shifts responsibility to women

140926-homesafe.jpg

An online campaign launched by Transport for London (TFL) has come under attack from social media users.

The launch of the hashtag #HomeSafeSelfie is part of the wider Safer Travel at Night and Cab Wise campaigns to raise awareness of  the dangers of using unlicensed minicabs.

Set up in collaboration with the Mayor of London and the Metropolitan Police, it urges young women to post selfies of themselves on social media  once they have arrived home to let friends and family know they are safe. It also encourages them to include a message warning people not to use unlicensed minicabs.

Getting an unbooked minicab isn’t safe. Make sure you get home safely. Share a #HomeSafeSelfie http://t.co/BtUQMgXFpE pic.twitter.com/gSRxfkzkBc

 

— London Overground (@LDNOverground) September 25, 2014

TFL said it hoped the campaign would "tap into the trend of friends and particularly young women texting each other to say they are home safe".

"Any minicab journey that isn't booked is dangerous and puts you at risk of sexual attack," Chief Superintendent Matt Bell of the Metropolitan Police told the Daily Telegraph.

However, women's rights campaigners were quick to criticise the hashtag, describing it as victim blaming as it places the responsibility on women not to get attacked.

Admit it ladies, we gals LOVE selfies. and sometimes we just need that little bit of persuasion not to get raped, y'know? #HomeSafeSelfie

 

— Annie KNK (@AnnieKNK) September 26, 2014

Fixed it for you@TfLOfficial: Have you got home without sexually assaulting anyone? Share your #HomeSafeSelfie with your friends!

 

— Misandrist (@PlanetCath) September 26, 2014

"The reason why so many women are raped by unlicensed cab drivers is not that women persist in taking unlicensed cabs," writes feminist blogger Helen Jones. "It is that drivers of unlicensed cabs choose to rape women."

While acknowledging that the campaign comes from a good place and that everyone should take sensible precautions, the Telegraph's Radhika Sanghani argues that the overriding message is one of blame.

She compares the campaign to the launch of 'anti-rape nail polish' that could be used to detect if a drink had been spiked. "Again, it had good intentions but it suggested that prevention of sexual assault is a woman's responsibility."

"Ultimately, these women shouldn't have to rejoice in getting home safe," writes Sanghani. "It should be the norm."

TFL has yet to respond to the criticism.

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