Rape charity slams Diageo-funded ‘victim blaming’ ad

13th March, 2015 by Melita Kiely

A rape crisis charity has condemned an advertisement from the Diageo-funded Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign claiming it “blames victims of rape for their own rape”.


A rape crisis charity has called for the immediate removal of a Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign advert

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) described the advertisement as a “sinister reference” that the young girl on the bed has been attacked on her way home.

However, the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign – which is led by an independent board – has rejected the accusations saying the advert has been “wildly misinterpreted”.

The advert – published in the Irish Independent on Thursday – depicts a young woman who has returned from a night out sitting at the end of her bed, while another woman in a dressing gown, said to be her younger sister, looks at her from the bedroom door.

The woman on the end of the bed has make-up smeared across her face, while the tagline reads: “Who’s following in your footsteps? Out-of-control drinking has consequences.”

“Asking for it”

Clíona Saidléar, RCNI director, slammed the advert as “utterly unacceptable”and carries a “dangerous cultural message”.

“The message is it’s her fault for being drunk and what is more it is also her mother’s fault for her own drinking habits,” she said. “The belief that drunk girls are ‘asking for it’ is one that needs to be strongly challenged as it is one that we know perpetrators use to select and target their victims knowing this cultural attitude will mean they get away with it.

“Disappointingly, the out-of-control campaign instead of challenging it has reinforced it here.

“This is utterly unacceptable and RCNI demand that Diageo remove these offending advertisements immediately.

“We ask all papers and commercial platforms carrying this ad to take it down and refuse to run such dangerous cultural messages of rape victim blaming.”


In response to criticism, Fergus Finlay, CEO of charity Barnardos, which has previously expressed its support for the campaign, said on Twitter that he stands by the advert.

A statement released by the campaign argued it is part of a series of ads aimed at stimulating a discussion in Ireland about the “consequences of out-of-control drinking”, including children, siblings and the drinker themselves.

“The ads are designed to say, amongst other things, that our behaviour influences those around us,” the statement read. “The ad in today’s Independent depicts an older sister who has returned home after a night of clearly excessive drinking, who is being watched by her younger sister.

“The image may be provocative, and is intended to be. It has however been wildly misunderstood and misinterpreted by the director of the Rape Crisis Network, who has made a series of completely inaccurate claims about the content of the ad.

“Nobody associated with this campaign would tolerate for a minute the inference that victims of abuse and assault are ever to blame.

“Many of us have worked with the victims of abuse and assault over many years, and would never allow any untrue inference of that kind. It is an entirely unworthy assertion based on a misinterpretation.”

Earlier this month Diageo was targeted for its involvement in the campaign, with critics calling it a “smokescreen” initiative to boost the firm’s credibility, although the firm denied this saying it “really believes in” the campaign.

One Response to “Rape charity slams Diageo-funded ‘victim blaming’ ad”

  1. Elliott says:

    I saw this advert exactly the way it was suposed to be read. I have no idea how the idea of rape was woven into this fairly obvious scene. The idea that this has anything to do with rape is moronic. This is a case of confirmation bias, where people who have singular objectives sift through such media, looking for things to which to tag their ideas. Saidléar is clearly incapable of viewing a picture of a tearful woman without leaping to the conclusion that she has been raped. Could she not have been crying as a result of her guilt from having been inebriated, maybe she just vomited, maybe she’s crying because her mum just yelled at her for throwing up on the sofa. I came to this and any number of conclusions before thinking that she’d been raped. Leave the advertisement and run another poster which very clearly details the dangers of date rape and inebriaton.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our newsletter