Australia’s Defence Force chief has sparked outrage by telling first year cadets not to become ‘prey’ to rapists by being out late, drunk, alone and attractive.
General Angus Campbell made the comments to cadets Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra in a speech to a new cohort.
Mr Campbell said they could avoid sexual predators by being aware of the ‘Four As’ – alcohol, alone, attractive, and being out after midnight, The Canberra Times reported.
Chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, allegedly told cadets they must be aware of the ‘Four A’s’ – alcohol, alone, attractive, and being out after midnight to avoid being the target of sexual predators
There has been a furious reaction to General Campbell’s warning to ADF trainees
One female cadet was reported as saying the comments ‘made me feel uncomfortable’.
Mr Campbell’s comments have since been condemned by politicians and feminist commentators.
Opposition frontbencher Kristina Keneally, Labor’s deputy Senate leader, told the ABC Mr Campbell’s language was ‘clumsy’ and that implied ‘women are responsible for not being raped’.
Caitlin Roper, spokesperson for feminist activist group Collective Shout said:
‘Appealing to women to change their behaviour is a completely backwards and ineffective approach.
‘It’s not women who are responsible for rape, it’s the men who perpetrate it.’
‘[Change] starts by changing men’s attitudes, challenging the notion that women exist for men’s use, that men are entitled to sex, as well as attitudes of casual sexism and disrespect for women, and making it clear that the ADF will not tolerate this behaviour.’
‘Even if we accepted the premise that individual women could avoid being raped if they don’t drink, aren’t out late at night, aren’t alone or “too attractive” – which is a flawed premise to begin with – all that accomplishes is ensuring that it is not her who is raped, it’s another woman.’
‘It doesn’t actually stop men raping.’
Feminist social commentator and author, Jane Caro posted a photo of The Canberra Times article on Twitter with the comment: ‘FFS’ and ‘Yup. Patriarchy. Nothing is there fault, everything is ours.’
Others called Mr Campbell’s comments ‘vile’ and ‘victim blaming’.
The ADF told The Canberra Times in a statement Mr Campbell’s comments helped cadets stay safe.
‘In his recent address to the new cohort of ADFA trainee officers, the CDF noted matters in the media regarding allegations of sexual harassment and assault,’ the statement read.
‘In his view, being aware of the four As – young, attractive people, noting the entire class fell into this risk factor; alcohol; after midnight; and alone – enabled the group to recognise and mitigate the threat posed by abusive or predatory individuals.
A young woman from the Gold Coast filed a sexual and racial discrimination claim in the Federal Court claiming a soldier placed his genitals on her head in October 2017
The ADF has been subject of numerous high-profile cases of sexual assault and misconduct over the past decade.
In February a Gold Coast woman who is a former army captain took the ADF to court after a fellow soldier placed his genitals on her head and made racist jokes about running over Asian people in 2017.
In 2016 the The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse heard there was a culture of abuse and secrecy within defence force families.
The royal commission heard ADF cadets were told to ‘suck it up’ after being forced by seniors officers to rape or perform horrific sex acts on one another while others were pushed to suicide.
In a statement supplied to Daily Mail Australia, Mr Campbell further clarified his comments and made it clear he believes ‘the perpetrator is always to blame’.
‘I recently referenced current events in the media regarding allegations of sexual harassment and assault in a speech I gave to Australian Defence Force Academy trainee officers.
‘Considering incidents that have affected military personnel in my years of service, my intent was to raise awareness and challenge the group to do what they can to mitigate risk and take action if they witness unacceptable behaviour.’
‘I am aware that my comments have been interpreted by some in a way that I did not intend. There is never an excuse for perpetrating sexual assault or sexual harassment and the perpetrator is always to blame.’
‘In my speech I reinforced the importance of the trainee cohort coming together to build a community that works in support of everyone, establishes trust in one another, and ultimately for that group to build a strong network of friends and colleagues who look out for each other.’
‘I acknowledge the importance and power of language in addressing systemic inequality and continue to be informed by the experiences of Defence personnel as we seek to ensure that the ADF is a workplace where all personnel can thrive.’