Judge accused of 'victim-blaming' after warning women 'get drunk and risk rape'

Vera Baird

Vera Baird

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A female judge who warned women they are at greater risk of being raped if they get drunk has been accused of victim-blaming by a police commissioner.

Lindsey Kushner said there was "absolutely no excuse" for sex attacks but warned that men gravitate towards vulnerable women, as she jailed a rapist in Manchester.

In her final case before retiring, the judge insisted that while women were entitled to "drink themselves into the ground", their "disinhibited behaviour" could put them in danger and they were "less likely to be believed" than a sober victim.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird said the comments were "victim-blaming" and would stop victims coming forward.

The former solicitor-general told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "When somebody is raped they feel guilt and shame and they find it very hard to report it.

"If a judge has just said to them 'Well, if you drank you are more likely to get raped, we are not likely to believe you and you have been disinhibited so you've rather brought it on yourself' then that guilt is just going to get worse."

The ex-Labour MP said the judge should have given advice to help women stay safe instead of implying "it's your fault for having attracted him in the first place".

"She does say 'Yes, you can drink yourself daft and you can use your body how you want but if you do you are more likely to get raped'. Now, I'm sorry, but that is putting responsibility on it."

Judge Kushner said rapists targeted people who were vulnerable and urged women to "have this in mind".

She said: "Girls are perfectly entitled to drink themselves into the ground but should be aware people who are potential defendants to rape gravitate towards girls who have been drinking.

"It shouldn't be like that but it does happen and we see it time and time again."

Drunk girls and women were "less likely to fight a man with evil intentions off" and they were also less likely to report an attack because they may not be able to remember what happened or "if push comes to shove, a girl who has been drunk is less likely to be believed than one who is sober at the time".

"I beg girls and women to have this in mind."