Why didn’t she just stay home hiding behind locked doors and curtained windows?
A British television host is being criticized for asking a rape victim in an interview why she didn’t take a taxi home after a night out, thus avoiding the man who dragged her into his car two blocks from her house and sexually assaulted her.
The Telegraph reports that Eamonn Holmes introduced the segment with 20-year-old Hannah Cant by saying: “She was on her way home from a night out with her friends and walking home – didn’t take a taxi.”
Then he asked the question directly: “It’s that old thing, I always say. Why were you tempted to walk home?”
Ms. Cant, who waived her right to anonymity to appear on the show, explained that she had been with a friend and had walked the short distance home many times.
“I thought it would be okay.”
“But it wasn’t,” Mr. Holmes said.
The network was soon receiving complaints, according to the Daily Mail, that Mr. Holmes was suggesting Ms. Cant had brought on the sexual assault by choosing to walk in her own neighbourhood at night. She was attacked by a soldier named Jonathan Haynes, who was sentenced last month to 11 years in jail.
At the end of her interview, Mr. Holmes advised her: “I hope you take taxis now. Everywhere you go, coming home at night.” He then reportedly turned to his co-presenter (who is also his wife) Ruth Langsford and said: “How many times do I tell people who I know to take taxis?”
While a spokesperson for the television network said that Ms. Cant was happy with the interview and that Mr. Holmes did not mean to “blame the victim” with his comments, criticism for the interview quickly circulated on the internet.
On Twitter, one comment read: “Eamonn Holmes – why should I have to pay money to get a taxi a distance I can walk? Totally outraged by his comments.” Another tweet came to his defence, arguing, “There’s a massive difference between saying ‘she was asking for it’ and advising girls to take taxis home.”
As it turns out, Mr. Haynes was convicted in part on DNA evidence that Ms. Cant bravely left intentionally at the crime scene. During the attack, recalling an episode of the TV forensic crime show CSI, she had the foresight to rip out strands of her own hair and spit in the car.
Is Mr. Holmes’ advice simple street smarts? Or does it smack of blaming the victim?