If You’re In a Skirt and Get Raped, It’s Your Fault, Says Belgian University

If you wear a skirt and you are raped, it is your fault.

That is the message a Belgian University, the Brussels Institute of Higher Education, has told its students, whether female or male.

As The Sun says, student fraternities in Belgium have a “long tradition” of various initiation rituals, some of which involve male students dressing up in drag. In October, a student dressed as a woman was going to an initiation event when a group of youths assaulted him. He was taken to a deserted parking lot, robbed of his mobile phone and gang raped. A 15-year-old and a 17-year-old are reportedly in custody.

Another male student was also raped in a similar incident.

The university has now issued a ban on students wearing drag with the warning that “certain groups perceive wearing drag as being provocative.” That is, the Brussels Institute of Higher Education is in effect casting the blame on the students who survived sexual assaults.

This warning was issued by a “student counselor after consultation with the student union, and not from the university’s directors,” the Global Post notes. But even if the university has not itself issued an outright ban on students dressing in drag, it is still sending the message to students that, if you dress a certain way, you are “asking for it.” Says Bruno De Lille, the regional minister for equal opportunities:

“I feel that HUB [the Brussels Institute of Higher Education] is sending out completely the wrong signal. By reacting in this way they are at least implying that the rape was the victim’s fault.

“And what about transgender men and women then? Should they also adapt?

“As a society we should make it clear to the victims that they have our support and say to the perpetrators that their behaviour is unacceptable and that they will be severely punished.”

Earlier this year, a Virginia school district sought to ban cross-dressing on the grounds that doing so would lessen bullying and safeguard against “safety risks, disruptions and distractions.” But as the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia informed the school district, such a dress code was “unlawful and unfair to students.” By banning “nonconforming behavior,” the school district was not (whatever it claimed) addressing bullying or harassment, but (like the Belgian university) squarely, if indirectly, placing the blame on the victims.

It was four years ago that 15-year-old Lawrence King was shot in the back of his head during a computer science class by another student, Brandon McInerney. King occasionally wore jewelry, high-heeled boots and makeup to school. McInerney’s lawyers singled out “the school’s permissive attitude” in allowing King to cross-dress as an expression of his identity as specifically “contribut[ing] to the escalating tensions between the pair that would eventually lead to King’s death,” thereby seeking to pin the blame for King’s death on himself. It was an argument that — like the Belgian university’s ban — overlooked the reality of the perpetrator’s own troubles.

Alex Hern states the matter succinctly in the New Statesman: “Rapists have no right to dictate how you dress. If you are raped, it is the fault of: 1) The person who raped you.”


Related Care2 Coverage

5 Things You Need to Know About Gay Marriage and the Supreme Court

Virginia School District Wants to Ban Cross-Dressing By Students

Student Who Killed Larry King Gets 21 Years in Prison


Photo from Thinkstock


Navpreet K.
Navpreet K.4 years ago

I believe that it (if you dress a certain way, you are “asking for it.” Says Bruno De Lille, the regional minister for equal opportunities:) is the wrong message to send.

Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins4 years ago

How can real authority figures come up with such idiotic problem solving?

If you don't want to be bullied, don't be different or at all stand out from the crowd. If you don't want to be raped, don't wear anything that you will look attractive in or that will give easier access to a rapist.

What kind of advice and rules are those?!

Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Nicola Thomasson
Nicola Thomasson5 years ago


A common trait of certain mental disorders, and I'm talking the direction of amongst others bipolar disorder, is that human interaction is sometimes harder to comprehend. However, in this case, should they have given out the signal that they want to have sex without realizing it, I highly doubt their partner, whether bipolar or anything else, will struggle with comprehending the word 'no' (or similar words, comments, or acts).

Nicola Thomasson
Nicola Thomasson5 years ago

I can't believe there are so many victim-blamers here! 'You dress a certain way, and you have to accept the possible consequences', 'you shouldn't dress in certain ways', 'learn to clearly say no'... Ridiculous!

Any person should be able to wear whatever they please and not have to worry about it. Unfortunately, that's not the case, but then there should, as some people have, be an outcry about the injustice of it being that they can't, not basically saying they should expect it, like it's ok because that's what happens in this world. Disgusting!

Also, unless the person is unconscious, in which case you should perform any sexual acts upon them at all, I'm pretty sure they'll show signs, or make sounds/comments that lets the other person they don not want to participate in acts of a sexual nature. If they've been forced into a position where they can't fight back, or voice their displeasure, well, then the act of doing that alone pretty much confirms that the person assaulting them is forcing themselves upon the person in question.

Granted, acting a certain way can be misleading, but upon showing or voicing their disinterest, the other person should realize the wrong signals have been sent out, or that the person has changed their mind. If the person chooses not to adhere to this, well, then the act immediately becomes what is defined as "forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse", also known as rape.

A common trait of certain ment

Ashley D.
Ashley D.5 years ago

While fully accepting that rape is the most horrendous crime a man can commit against a woman (or even vice-versa, it has been known), it opens up another avenue of concern for me personally. Allow me a comment from Tara Newley (Joan Collins' daughter, Daily Mail, Sept 20th, 2006) on how Jade Jagger let her daughter Assisi dress:
'What mother, in the current climate of paedophilia & rape, would let her 14-year-old prowl the streets dressed in a gold lame minidress slashed to the navel, which both cried out for nipple tape and would look provocative on a twenty-year-old .. ?'

Rachel Farrell
Ray Farrell5 years ago

Okay, if you dress provocatively, then you're going to get attention from anyone around you, whose interested. If you dress that way you need to understand how to politely turn down the person who is just being intrusive. It is your responsibility to learn how to dress and act how you want to treated. If one out of five relationships amongst teenagers and college students is abusive where the hell is the practical education in understanding LGBT, communication, sexual safety/ perferance, abusive personalities or traits? Since most decent, sober men don't rape when turned down, rape is the responsibility of the rapist, but teaching the seriousness of the crime, understanding of each other, and self-defense skills is everyone's responsibility.

Kathleen Cazander

This is disgusting. We MUST stop the blame the victim mentality!

Laura W.
Laura W5 years ago

What, who? Of course they raped a man, of course a man can rape a man--it was done!! Did you see Pulp Fiction? Get in touch with that feeling, and imagine what people go through. Peace.

Laura W.
Laura W5 years ago

It's not the skirt, morons!! It's the level of disrespect for humanity that is the problem. OMG, only men could blame it on the skirt. smh Anyone who remotely is involved with rape or rapes someone, should be punished to the extent of the law. OMG, really, the world is turning to the Old West or a third world country. Please Pray. Have a beautiful Holiday season. Peace.