This isn’t the first time that government officials have gotten into trouble for making a controversial comment about rape while using social media, but it is the first time I can recall the police being the maker of offensive comments. Police in Helsinki, Finland have found themselves in hot water for a recent Facebook post.
Here’s what happened: The Helsinki Police used their Facebook page to discuss the increase in reports of sexual assault. However, they then discussed “the other side of the coin,” which was what the author of the post perceived to be the increase in frivolous complaints. The post noted that 309 rape complaints were reported, 225 were investigated, and 2/3 of those had not gone any further. According to the original Facebook post:
“’I feel as though I’ve been drugged and raped’ is one common complaint. Drugs are not often discovered during blood tests and the story is littered with words like ‘maybe’ and ‘I suppose’. The complainant often also admits that they’d been drinking a lot, but ‘I would never have gone to bed with them if I’d been sober’.”
Naturally, this set off a social media firestorm, with commenters saying that they believed the police department was being far too dismissive of rape victims complaints and was discouraging future reports. In a second post, police reiterated that raping a drunk person is, in fact, a crime (it’s never good if you need to clarify this) and apologized for causing offense with the post.
I’m honestly not quite sure what the Helsinki Police Department was going for here…what were they thinking, and what, exactly, were they trying to accomplish by making a post like this? Cultural differences aside, if any police department in America made a post like this, they would instantly become national news and find themselves at the center of a much louder and longer controversy than it appears that the Helsinki Police Department faced (I could only find one article on this incident).
For those of you in government who use social media, I would suggest a different approach (clearly): helping victims file better reports. Instead of discussing the wide degree of reports and rape investigations that don’t progress because of a lack of evidence, write a post that gives men and women (some of whom, tragically, will may become rape victims themselves) a better idea of how to report a rape. There is a multitude of resources on the subject, and surely the police department has better training in this matter then me doing a quick Google search.
Again, I’m not quite sure I understand what the police department was getting at here. What I do know is that, whatever it is, they failed. Writing a helpful post that could assist potential future victims would have been a fantastic use of social media by law enforcement, and in general, I believe this is a much safer way to proceed.
What do you think? Any better tips? Let us know in the comments!