According to this piece in the Wall Street Journal, cops have been telling women in the areas affected by the Slope Sex Fiend (or whatever it is we’re calling him/them) to avoid wearing skirts and shorts because it’s “easy access.” A young woman named Lauren is quoted saying that she and two friends had a weird interaction with a cop: “He pointed at my outfit and said, ‘Don’t you think your shorts are a little short?’ He pointed at their dresses and said they were showing a lot of skin.” Ew!
To their credit, the NYPD has ramped up its operations in the neighborhood since the attacks, which now number 11, started going down. But they’ve dealt with this skirt thing in a pretty half-assed manner: Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said that “Officers are not telling women what not to wear–there’s a TV series that does that,” according to the Journal. “They are simply pointing out that as part of the pattern involving one or more men that the assailant(s) have targeted women wearing skirts.”
Community group Safe Slope, who launched their Safe Walk program last night, released an open letter to the cops on their Tumblr. It reads in part:
We have received reports that multiple women have been told by officers on patrol that they are making themselves targets of violence by wearing clothing items like shorts, dresses, or skirts. These messages place the blame on women, including the survivors of assaults, in our neighborhood. Women should be able to wear whatever they want without fear of violence. It is the job of the police to protect people from harm–not blame them for it.
Recommendation: Blame for sexual assault should be placed on perpetrators only. This type of messaging from the NYPD demonstrates a lack of sensitivity toward violence against women. The NYPD should raise awareness about the assaults and should not provide any type of information that places the onus of responsibility on victims or potential victims.
Safe Slope also lists other grievances with the NYPD; for example, a couple women say that officers have followed them closely without identifying themselves.
They also note that officers have reported inconsistent information about the attacks, which is a problem we’ve run into as well (e.g. today, when police couldn’t or wouldn’t tell us how many suspects there are now).