It’s unfortunate but true — victim blaming is a common aftermath of sexual harassment or assault. And more often than not, people question what the victim was wearing, intentionally/unintentionally holding the survivor responsible for the act. Trying to break the same pervasive myths around rape culture an exhibition in the Molenbeek district of Brussels has recreated outfits of rape survivors to show how clothes play no role in provoking a sexual assault.
Titled What were you wearing, the exhibition – which will run till January 20 – has recreated and displayed 18 outfits that the victims wore when the incident took place. Some of the clothes that were showcased were a child’s dress, a man’s jeans and T-shirt, tracksuit bottoms and a police uniform; and each piece was displayed along with the harrowing tale that took place when the person was wearing them.
The descriptions were submitted by survivors from Kansas. Most of the outfits are daily wear clothes and that is exactly what the exhibition aims to highlight — to let visitors see and relate to the fact that the survivors wore nothing unusual or provoking.
Organised by the the prevention service of Molenbeek, the exhibition has been organised and opened to “create a tangible response to one of our most pervasive rape culture myths” because “the belief that clothing or what someone what wearing ’causes’ rape is extremely damaging for survivors,” according to a Reuters report.
The exhibition aims to prove that a person’s outfit can never and should never be considered a form of provocation for a ‘rapist’ and also to end the culture of victim blaming.