Hong Kong's Secretary for Security, Lai Tung-kwok, sparked outrage from women's groups over comments he made on May 14, 2012, when announcing a sharp rise in the number of rapes in the first quarter of that year. "Some of these cases also involved the victims being raped after drinking quite a lot of alcohol. So I would appeal that young ladies should not drink too much,' he said as he reported the government's Fight Crime Committee statistics.
Security chief Lai Tung-kwok denies blaming rape victims
Women's groups have called on the security chief to apologise for suggesting women should drink less to avoid being raped
Phila Siu and Lai Ying-kit
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Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said on Thursday he had no intention of putting the blame on rape victims when he earlier suggested women should drink less to avoid being assaulted.
Lai is facing calls from outraged women’s groups to apologise over the remarks he made on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, he said some rape cases involved victims being raped after drinking a lot of alcohol and “so I would appeal that young ladies should not drink too much.”
On Thursday, Lai explained that these remarks were made in response to media inquiries and that he did not intend to lay responsibility on the victims.
“I had no intention whatsoever of putting the blame on the victims,” he said on Thursday afternoon.
“I really hope that if there are any victims, they will bravely come forward," he said. "Police will do their best to catch their attackers and bring them to justice.”
The security chief also said he had received several emails regarding his remarks and the opinions expressed in them made hime feel "very uneasy”.
“I will humbly listen to these opinions,” he said.
Women's groups have called on the security chief to apologise for suggesting women should drink less to avoid being raped.
They said Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok had shown his ignorance and was putting the blame on the victim instead of the attacker.
Linda Wong Sau-yung, a leading campaigner against sexual violence, said she was outraged.
"Women do not get raped because they drink too much alcohol," said Wong, of the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women. "In many cases, they are raped because they have too much trust in their friends who rape them."
Liu Ngan-fung, a spokeswoman for Forthright Caucus, which campaigns on women's issues, said Lai was adding insult to the victims' injury.
Lai's remarks on Tuesday came as statistics from the government's Fight Crime Committee showed that rapes in the first three months of this year were up on the same period last year. The number increased almost 60 per cent to 35 cases.
Speaking after he attended the committee's meeting on Tuesday, Lai said all of the cases happened between people who knew each other.
"They are either friends, close friends or they just met a few hours ago," he said. "Some of these cases also involved the victims being raped after drinking quite a lot of alcohol. So I would appeal that young ladies should not drink too much."
Wong said Lai should withdraw the comments. "He was discouraging the victims from reporting the abuse," she said, citing a study by another group that said the actual number of rapes could be up to seven times the number reported.
Liu asked whether Lai was saying that women should not go out at night and should not drink alcohol. "Instead of putting the blame on the victim, he should step up effort to arrest the rapists. Did he mean that the victims deserve to get raped?" she asked.
Liu Pui-shan, director of the Hong Kong Federation of Women's Centres, was also outraged. "It's like blaming the banks for putting too much money inside the vaults if they get robbed."
The remarks went viral on Wednesday as web users united to condemn Lai. Angry Twitter and Facebook users reposted the comments several hundred times.
"Hong Kong Secretary for Security advises that 'young ladies not drink too much' after rise in rapes. Or, gosh, maybe tell men not to rape?” Hong Kong-based Twitter user Miss O’Kistic said on her feed.
"Doesn't matter if the woman has been drinking or dressing 'provocatively'. Rape and Sexual Violence against Women are never ok!!” Facebook user Noreen Mir wrote on the wall of protest group SlutWalk Hong Kong.
A spokesman for the Security Bureau said Lai had not intended to blame rape victims, and only wanted to highlight the ways in which culprits took advantage of their victims.