Justice Andrew Gilbart, a prominent English judge, made a point to call out a victim for being intoxicated during her assault and kidnapping.
The Manchester Evening News reports that the victim was grabbed, kissed, and then dragged by an 18-year-old named Yaqoob Alanezy on Aug. 20. The teen assailant was stopped when a passerby shouted out to him, scaring Alanezy away from where he had been lying on top of the woman in the street.
Alanezy's attorney, Oliver Jarvis, claimed alcohol was a factor in the assault and that Alanezy, who is from Kuwait where alcohol is illegal, had been drinking in excess to deal with "deep boredom" since arriving in the UK.
Although Jarvis stated that Alanezy made "no excuses" for the assault, Jarvis clearly meant to draw a parallel between Alanezy's alcohol consumption and the attack, which is a double standard often seen in cases where men sexually assault women; the men are excused for their actions because of their alcohol consumption, while the female victims are condemned for it.
Gilbart perpetuated this troubling trend when he made a point to address the victim's intoxication, saying, "I’m sure it was a frightening incident. She got very, very drunk. It doesn’t excuse what happened, but people have to make sure they protect themselves and guard against this — she made herself very vulnerable. The law seeks to protect victims such as this from their own foolishness."
Fay Maxted of The Survivors Trust, an organization for sexual assault survivor advocacy, told the Manchester Evening News that she believed Gilbart's actions were completely unjustified — and even harmful.
"So much effort is put into encouraging people to report these crimes and so for one to get to court and to see the judge victim blaming is just disturbing," Maxted stated. "If you report a burglary, people don’t criticize you for leaving the curtains open. It should not be happening."
Maxted explained that comments like Gilbart's "can be really punishing," and can deter victims from reporting assaults to the authorities.
Considering the pervasive trend in shaming victims of assault, Gilbart's actions were very irresponsible.
Gilbart sentenced Alanezy to serve 22 months in a young offenders' prison, but let's hope that the Justice makes full amends to the victim who he shamed in court. It is imperative that judges treat rape and assault cases like any other crime and the perpetrator is the only one who takes the blame.
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