An exhibition in Brussels is displaying clothing worn by rape victims at the time they were attacked, reportedly to dispel the “stubborn myth” that provocative dress is a factor in violent sexual crimes.
The exhibition, held in the Molenbeek district of the Belgian capital, is called “Is it my fault?” It refers to the self-doubt that many victims feel after an attack, the Flanders News website reports.
The clothes loaned to the organisers – victim support group CAW East Brabant – include tracksuit bottoms, pyjamas and dresses.
CAW’s Liesbeth Kennes told VRT1 radio “What you immediately notice when you walk around here: they are all very normal pieces that anyone would wear.
“There is even a children’s shirt with an image of ‘My Little Pony’ in the exhibition, which brings home a harsh reality,” she said.
Ms Kennes says that “victim blaming” still remains a problem in sexual assault cases, where the victim may be questioned on the assumption that they were at least partly responsible for the sexual aggression against them.
In 2015, she told VRT’s De Redactie website that only 10% of rapes in the country are ever reported to the police, and that of those, only one in ten cases results in a conviction.
“Behind those figures are people of flesh and blood, women, men and children,” she said, “Our society discourages victims from speaking about what they have experienced.”
While victims are accused of dressing provocatively, flirting, or even cycling home late at night, Ms Kennes says “There is only one person responsible, one person who could prevent rape: the perpetrator”.