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Cabs should cut prices for scantily clad women, says councillor


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Following a Lewisham cab company’s decision to use flyers plastered with the image of a downward facing young woman, bruised and drenched from the rain, the slogan ‘should have used Data Cars’ callously placed next to her trembling form, the twittersphere and The Everyday Sexism project let out a collective groan.

Amongst this backdrop of general exasperation, another spate of misguided comments has surfaced, this time from a Brentwood councillor.

Councillor Chris Hossack has emerged from the haze of obscurity and minor local renown as a knight swathed in shining bureaucratic armour, on a quest to protect the honour of the scantily clad ladies of Brentwood.

The councillor is heading a new action group charged with the task of tackling the town’s night time economy in the thunderous wake of The Only Way Is Essex. His first plan of action: cutting taxi fare for the skimpily dressed.

Hossack claims that TOWIE has encouraged sex attacks on women as female stars, like Amy Childs, have apparently triggered a pandemic of provocative going out gear. In response to the scourge of skimpy outfits, he proposes that taxi drivers should slice prices for the inappropriately dressed, to protect them from sexual assault.

When faced with questions as to whether this policy could in fact encourage rather than deter women from wearing revealing clothes, he cuttingly responded: ‘To be honest I don’t think it can get any worse. They can’t possibly wear any less.

"They come down to buy clothes from their shops and wear them on the night, trying to make themselves look more attractive. My wife read Amy Childs' comments about the need to be responsible but she’s part of the problem as far as I’m concerned.

"The businesses she’s chosen to go into have been built on her attractive looks.’

Offensive as it is misguided; this causal link between a short skirt and sexual assault is a recycled discourse frequently alluded to by protective parents, authorities and the media.

Whilst portraying all men as weak-willed potential rapists who immediately tear off normal clothes and jettison their moral code at the mere glimpse of a mini skirt and heels, like a morally bankrupt Clark Kent, it also passes over the burden of blame to innocent victims.

Victim Support has countered Hossack’s claims, maintaining that: "It must always be remembered that a victim is just that.

"It should never be suggested that a victim makes themselves open to crime because of what they wear or how they act.’

Sadly, the flawed logic that legitimises trauma as a result of bad judgements leaks into both high courts and low level conversations: last week a 13-year-old’s claims to have been raped were dismissed due to her being ‘predatory’, in February this year a rape victim killed herself after the aggressive questioning she faced as part of the trial and in 2002 another rape victim killed herself after her underwear was paraded through the court as part of the defence due to their apparently provocative nature.

Women are subliminally socialised to adopt methods to avoid attack: flat heeled shoes, pre-booked taxis and staying in packs, but the uncomfortable reality is that these methods are utterly meaningless when not in conjunction with the more pressing issue of re-educating rapists. Cutting taxi fare for women teetering in heels is not going to discourage sexual attacks, but it will place the onus on women to adopt methods to avoid assault and is therefore subtly supporting the idea that they’re to blame for it. 

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