THE BLOG

We Need to Address Women's Rights Following the Cologne Attacks

12/01/2016 11:26 GMT | Updated 11/01/2017 10:12 GMT

In the messy aftermath of 2015, it seems nothing has changed when it comes to the sexualisation of women.

Surprised? Neither am I.

As 1000 men are accused of groping, mugging and raping young women on New Year's Eve in Cologne, an 18-year-old victim has reportedly branded the city a 'no-go-zone' for women. A victim who, instead of being reassured the attacks were by no means the fault of the women, feels as if she must hide away in order to evade molestation; an 18-year-old girl who feels so afraid of inevitable sexualisation by a damming minority of disgusting hedonists that her only resolution is to avoid public places all together.

As expected, the majority of the attackers roam free while women everywhere are encouraged to imprison themselves in their homes. As oppose to condemning the misogynistic attackers (based on their views towards women, not the colour of their skin), it appears the blame falls once again on the victims. The city's Mayor, Henriette Reker, has told women they should adopt a 'code of conduct' so as to avoid a mass sexual assault happening again.

Women, what were you thinking leaving the house on New Year's Eve?! What were you thinking leaving the house at all!

It's implanted in many men's heads, and sadly in many girls' as well, that women are objects of desire; pieces of meat on display for the carnal male gaze. Objects that, in the minds of some, can be touched as well as looked at.

Not only is this belief already lodged in society, but by faulting women for their own sexual attacks, it makes this behaviour acceptable. If you grope a woman, you get a slap on the wrist, but she is the one who has to change her behaviour. Not only because she is told to, but because she no longer feels safe on her own streets, nor in her own body.

When a woman of power's instinct is to scrutinise what these young women did wrong, as oppose to reflecting on why the men felt their crimes were acceptable, 1000 men have won. If even women see themselves as punishable for being women, and deserving of sexualisation if their behaviour is not 'ladylike', then what hope is there for 1000 men to see us as anything other than sex objects?

There will probably be very few repercussions for most of the attackers, but women around the world will feel the effect of the Mayor's blame.

There will still be no consequences for shouting sexual slurs at young girls in the street; it's their own fault for wearing skirts that show their ankles. There will still be no change in the gender pay gap; women just aren't as good at their jobs. And half-dressed women will still perform as the protagonists in the media's infamous play: sex for sale.

It all feels rather out-dated to me, except it's not. There is still an overwhelming view of women as the inferior sex; whether it's admitted or not, whether it's the male gaze or the way women see themselves, it's ingrained in our societies, in our world, that women are playthings for the patriarchy.