Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Kindness of Strangers

I'm glad I'm not the only one seriously wound up by the new advert warning women of the dangers of unlicensed minicabs. Why are we asked to accept that there "just are" nasty people out there and therefore it's really our own fault if we - or our female friends - get violently raped on the way home?

At the age of fifteen I used to walk the mile to the bus-stop and sometimes, if I missed it, the 3-4 miles into my local town to my Saturday job. Since I could hardly have been headed anywhere but the town centre, barely a week went by when someone did not stop and offer me a lift. And I always accepted, never thought twice about it. In fact last time I was back in that part of the world I bumped in to one of the guys who used to give me a lift and we had a drink and a chat. Nowadays no doubt I would be personally responsible for encouraging paedophiles. Crime rates have not increased in the intervening period.

I'm also seeing adverts on TV telling me that I need to fit burglar alarms, double-lock my door when I go out and not use my mobile phone in public in case mysterious evil-doers see it and steal it. The government is, it would seem, topping up the efforts it has already made to cultivate a climate of fear and mistrust just in time for bringing in 1984-style identity cards.

Statistically, as a woman, you are much more likely to be raped by someone you know than by a stranger. I always think of that when some pushy guy I've met within the last few hours starts insisting on walking me to the bus stop.

Finally, ladies, let me remind you who you are most at risk of being physically hurt by: your own husband or boyfriend. Would your friends let you get into a car with him?

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