Prevention

Scotland’s Newest Weapon in the War Against Rape: Bartenders

Scotland’s new rape prevention program “We Can Stop It” aims to work with bars and clubs to teach bystander intervention.

KRIS HANKE/iStock

Scotland launched their new sexual violence prevention campaign in a pub. The Butterfly and Pig Bar in Glasgow hosted Chief Constable Sir Stephen House of Police Scotland and Sandy Brindley, the National Coordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland as they kicked off the “We Can Stop It” campaign, according to The Guardian.

The new, ambitious campaign is aimed at 16-27 year old men, a group whom are responsible for more than one third of rapes in Scotland, according to Police Scotland.

The Butterfly and Pig Bar is participating in a key pillar in Scotland’s £80,000 national campaign: bystander training. The training is meant to teach bartenders and club workers when and how to intervene when someone might become the victim of a sexual assault.

Chief Inspector Graham Goulden, a bystander trainer at the Violence Reduction Unit, said, “It’s great to see those who work in pubs and clubs showing this willingness to see their role in the prevention of this crime. As bystanders we all have the potential to prevent any incident from escalating. By doing nothing we are telling offenders their behavior is ok and victims they’re on their own. This just isn’t right.”

“We want to make sure society starts to focus their attention on the men who do this rather than focusing on whether a victim had been drinking. We will never stop this if we continue to focus on victims,” Inspector Goulden continued.

The “hard-hitting post watershed” campaign features TV and viral ads, according to The Guardian and will be shown in cinemas across the country.

The new campaign continues its “perpetrator focused approach, challenging behaviors and attitudes towards consent and rape,” according to a Police Scotland statement.

According to The Guardian, the program is the “first initiative of its kind in the UK, the police force is working with bar and club owners to train their staff to recognize situations where a woman may be vulnerable to sexual assault, and teaching them to intervene.”

The campaign hopes to educate and dispel myths surrounding rape and sexual assault.

“Sex without consent is rape. There are no excuses. If someone is drunk or drugged, they cannot give consent. ’We Can Stop It’ sends a very clear message—we can and we must prevent rape and sexual assault,” said Chief Constable at the launch.

The campaign’s “ultimate aim though, with our partners, is preventing these crimes in the first place,” says the Police Chief.

Speaking on the merits of the new program, Sandy Brindly of Rape Crisis Scotland says, “The new advert can play an important part in making sure people, particularly young people, are clear about what rape actually is, and that it can have serious consequences.”

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Bars and clubs are supportive of the initiative. “Bystander training is a fantastic initiative. It offers our team training, which not only raises awareness of the signs of vulnerability and potential predatory behavior it also addresses the many ways in which our managers, bar and door staff can intervene in a safe and controlled way. I would encourage other bars and clubs to get involved,” said Paul Banham, the owner and manager of The Butterfly and the Pig bar where the campaign kicked off.

Of course, bystander intervention education is not new—the White House rolled out its own sexual assault prevention program featuring bystander training, titled It’s On Us in September 2014. While some argue that bystander training only provides strategies to avoid sexual violence and does not address the systemic causes, Scotland’s new program is taking important steps in engaging and addressing the communities that perpetuate sexual violence.