Facebook Rape Threat Ignites Marchers

FACEBOOK PAGE: Reclaim the Night Townsville

A university student has been Facebook-trolled last week after trying to raise sexual assault awareness for the Townsville Women Centre’s annual ‘March and Rally’ event.

By Paula Willis

[Warning: content contains explicit sexual violence threats]

James Cook University student K* was personally victimised among the team of JCU Sociology students who united to reclaim the Women Centre’s event and promote it on their Facebook page, ‘Reclaim the Night Townsville’.

K says she reported the incident to the police and the James Cook University security staff, but was concerned that the police were not open to discuss the issue, given that she chose the option ‘open’ for the public to voice their opinion on the team’s Facebook page.

“It made me aware of how socially acceptable these things are and how much people accept it as a norm and say that these things happen and move on. But if you keep moving on, you end up hiding what’s actually occurring,” she says.

“How much are you willing to ignore? How often can you speak up and who’s actually listening?”

 

STUDENT THREAT: post on 'Townsville Reclaim the Night' Facebook page

STUDENT THREAT: Post on ‘Reclaim the Night Townsville’ Facebook page

 

JCU student and ‘Reclaim the Night’ organiser A* says the rape and violence trolling threat further encouraged and highlighted the importance of the event and that it only gave ‘fuel to the fire’.

“It ignites even more why we want to do it. We wanted to make it known that we weren’t going to tolerate it,” she says.

“We posted a screenshot of the attack and said ‘this is what we are up against’ and that post reached almost over 5000 people within a couple of days.”

James Cook University Security Manager Ian Brooks has spoken to the people involved in the trolling attack and is confident in the 24-hour security measures and the 200 CCTV cameras installed on the campus.

“We are constantly under review. We don’t just set and forget because the environment in which we operate continues to change,” he says.

“Security means freedom from fear and for me if people aren’t scared then I’m happy because they are secure. I would just like to see people report things so we can respond.”

James Cook University Lecturer of Sociology Theresa Petray is overseeing the Reclaim the Night and says the issue needs to be brought to the public’s attention.

“It’s really important that people recognise the ability that people have to affect the world and society. Activism is one of the most effective ways of making change to society,” she says.

The team says it was disappointing that The Women’s Centre cancelled the event, but they are determined to reclaim the march given its significance to the community.

A says The Women’s Centre chose to use their government funding in other productive and more effective ways.

“With the new funding that most organisations have to abide by, they have to spend so many contact hours with clients and it leaves very little for community education or consciousness awareness.”

The Women’s Centre Coordinator Cathy Crawford is impressed and grateful for the efforts of the university volunteers.

“I think it’s great to have others sharing the responsibility for the awareness-raising because it’s such an important community issue,” she says.

“We are a government funded non-government organisation that is required to use funds received in the most prudent way, including assessing the demand for services and then prioritising that demand.”

Dr Petray says that even if women haven’t personally experienced sexual assault, they are still ‘subject to the rape culture’, as it is a part of social movements and patriarchy.

“It just epitomises what Reclaim the Night is all about and what women who experience sexual violence have to go through. They are basically victim blamed and are told that they are on Facebook and they should expect that to happen,” she says.

James Cook University event team organiser D* is passionate in protesting against this social issue but also acknowledges the root of its cause.

“It’s not just violence against women, but it’s views towards women. It’s the way you see women on billboards and these all add up to the impact it has on sexual violence towards women. People start to form these views about women.”

The Reclaim the Night team are continuing to promote this event despite the incident, and the march will be held on October the 25th 2013. The location is still yet to be announced.

 

FACEBOOK PAGE: Reclaim the Night Townsville

FACEBOOK PAGE: Reclaim the Night Townsville

 

For further information or if you would like to assist in volunteering please contact the team through their Facebook Page: Reclaim the Night Townsville.  

https://www.facebook.com/ReclaimTheNightTownsville

To report any issues or for an on campus emergency please call James Cook University Security on

1800 675 559 (toll free number)

4781 5555

The response to an emergency call is eight minutes.

* JCNN has protected the names of students for safety reasons.