The company further states that “we developed this product so that women and girls could have more power to control the outcome of a sexual assault. We wanted to offer some peace of mind in situations that cause feelings of apprehension, such as going out on a blind date, taking an evening run, “clubbing”, traveling in unfamiliar countries, and any other activity that might make one anxious about the possibility of an assault.”
The problems with this statement are almost endless. Perhaps most alarmingly, the product does not take into account that 80% of assaults happen in the victim’s home, with 70% of rapes being committed by a perpetrator who the victim knows. It is hard to imagine that “anti-rape” clothing will protect women from an abusive spouse or family member. Will she rush upstairs to change into her “anti-rape” pants at the slightest sign that her spouse is angry? And even if she did, and her spouse discovered that she was wearing this clothing, would the abuse stop there? It is very unlikely. What is more plausible is that this clothing will only serve to further enrage an abusive spouse and will potentially lead to more abuse and further violence. What if the abusive spouse discovers that his wife has spent money on such clothing? Like I’ve said above, it’s easy to imagine almost endless scenarios where this type of clothing can serve to put women in more danger.
And while AR Wear states that rape is always the fault of the rapist, it also says that their clothing gives women more power to control the outcome of a sexual assault. Apart from the problems I’ve already raised about the truth of that statement, I do take issue with the fact that giving women “more control” also has the potential to shift the blame onto her when sexual violence occurs.
Again, while it seems that the makers of AR Wear are trying to think of a “realistic” solution to a problem that is not going to be solved overnight, I don’t believe that anti-rape clothing is the way to changing how our society views and deals with domestic violence. Change will not come in the form of tight shorts with a locking device, but in our criminal justice system and family law legislation.
BC’s new Family Law Act, which came into effect March 18, 2013, aims to better protect victims of domestic violence by defining ‘family violence’ in a broader, more all-encompassing way. The act also increases the ability of the court to deal with family violence, not simply by broadening the definition of ‘family violence’ but by setting out risk factors to be considering in parenting cases involving violence. The act also creates Protection Orders, which replace the old Family Relations Act (FRA) restraining orders. Unlike the old FRA restraining orders, protection orders can be enforced through the Criminal Code. This means that disobeying a protection order is a criminal offence.
While strengthening our legislation is one thing, of course it largely remains to be seen, as it’s still early days, how the courts and law enforcement will interpret and apply these provisions. With that said, I am confident in saying that change is more likely to come in the form of progressive court decisions and diligent, informed law enforcement, not in the form of “anti-rape” wear.