A council in Essex is considering offering cheap travel home to girls who have drunk too much and are wearing revealing clothing. One councillor argues that they may be a target for attackers in that state, so they want to get them home safe.
However, there two good reasons why this move has caused outrage.
The suggestions come from Brentwood, which is the home of reality TV show The Only Way is Essex. One councillor has told The Sun that it's considering the move as a result of the impact of the programme. 'Towie tourists' hit the town to party in revealing clothes, and follow the example set in the programme for the regulation quantity of alcohol to be consumed on a night out.
Councillor Chris Hossack said that the popularity of the programme means that: "They come down to Brentwood to buy clothes from their shops and wear them on the night trying to look more attractive. Amy Childs is part of the problem as far as I'm concerned."
Childs (pictured), who runs a boutique in the town, told the Telegraph that the comments were unfair, adding: "Myself and other young ladies in Essex want to inspire confidence in girls who look up to us. I don't feel being or wanting to look glamorous makes us irresponsible."
ResponseHis comments have provoked outrage on two fronts. The first is the idea that women could be in any way to blame for attacks made on them. This is a shockingly common view, and in a survey by the Office for National Statistics, one in 12 people said that women were partially to blame if they were flirtatious or drunk at the time they were attacked.
Zero Tolerance, a charity which works to tackle the causes of men's violence against women, is unequivocal. It says that the myth that women who are raped cause it or partly cause it by their dress, drinking or conduct is completely wrong, adding: "Men are responsible for whether they rape or not and no women ever asks to be raped." It adds that rape isn't a matter of loss of control , saying: "It is a crime of violence... primarily motivated by violence and not by sexual desire."
The councillor's comments have also prompted a reaction from those who feel that by rendering themselves incapable of getting home safely, people are relying on the taxpayer to do it for them. They argue that each person is responsible for their own actions, and taxpayers should not have to step in when alcohol consumption overtakes sensible thought. The Telegraph quotes the TaxPayers' Alliance, which said: "It's important everyone gets home safely after a night out but it's not up to the council to pay for taxi rides."
Is is a terrible idea?Hossack has managed to offend everyone on all sides of the debate with his thoughtless and wrong-headed comments. However, it's worth bearing in mind that this was his take on one of a number of proposals put forward at a meeting in July, which are all under discussion.
Brentwood already runs a number of initiatives in order to reduce the risks caused by people who have drunk too much on a night out. These include a radio communication service between all the pubs and clubs in the town and the police, a 'Behave or Be Banned' scheme, CCTV, and church volunteers who patrol the streets at night ensuring people can get home safely.
At the meeting, a host of ideas were put forward, including keeping public toilets open later, and running shuttle buses to return those visiting Brentwood safely back to their hotels. The idea that this could simply be for scantily-clad drunk women is not how the proposal started life.
The councillor's comments are clearly outrageous, but is it wrong for a council to try to intervene and reduce the risks for those out on the town?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.