A man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for raping a teenager in a London alley. Sanjay Naker, a 28-year-old married man who works in the City, was found guilty of three counts of oral rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of sexual assault. The details of the attack are horrific, with the lead-up to the 30-minute assault captured on CCTV. Naker was found by security services who had seen him carrying her to an alleyway and went to investigate. They discovered his 18-year-old victim – who had her underwear pulled down – and called an ambulance.
Headlines reporting the case are describing the teenager as “drunk”. Usually, this phrase is used as a barbed stick with which to further beat victims, to undermine their case and to make a jury – and, sometimes, the woman herself – believe a rape was her own fault. Here it is slightly different; here the fact that she was drunk relates directly to the case. The 18-year-old was wandering the streets after being thrown out of a nightclub for being too drunk. This is what allowed Naker to find a vulnerable young woman, whose drunkenness he could use as an excuse to get away with his heinous crimes. None of this is her fault.
First, the girl was not out on the street of her own accord. She had been ejected from the club, presumably by bouncers who knew she was too drunk to know what was happening. She was left outside, without any of her friends to look after her. She wasn’t put in a cab home. It’s possible that once she had left the club, the bouncers never gave her a second thought – they had done their job. There are also the bar staff at the club to think of. If she was visibly drunk, why was she served alcohol that led her to be “too drunk”?
Sanjay Naker is the only one who turned a night out gone wrong into a rape. Though to deny the chain of events that led to the attack would deny the responsibility of everyone involved to protect the woman
None of these people would ever think their actions would build up to such a horrific event, but that’s just the problem. We must learn to protect women at every turn. The bouncer could have found her friends, or put her in a cab, or – better still – kept her within the relatively safe club. Imagine a barman had refused to serve her another drink. In that scenario, perhaps she might have left the club and made her way home less drunk and, most importantly, safe.
At the same time, it is important to say that this is the fault of just one man and not any of these players – especially not the victim herself. Sanjay Naker is the only one who turned a night out gone wrong into a rape – though to deny the chain of events that led to the attack would deny the responsibility of everyone involved to protect the woman.
Naker’s teenage victim was drunk, that’s true. But he was the rapist and the criminal in the situation. How do we make sure that women – especially drunk women – are protected, looked after and just as safe as they would be sober? Ask women if they are OK, step in when you see something going wrong, order them taxis, stay with them. But above all, rather than lecturing women about the dangers of drinking, let’s instruct men not to rape.