The Problem with Victim-Blaming
The recent murder of a 21-year-old college student who mistook a car for her Uber caused an uproar across social media, leading to heated debates over the safety of ride-share services as well as street safety as a general social issue.
The student, who had been recently admitted into Drexel University’s law school, had been returning home around 1:30 a.m. from a bar and stepped into a car that she thought was the Uber she had just called.
Tragically, the girl’s wounded body was found in the woods the following day.
There is no doubt that this was an extremely devastating situation, but the question of whether or not it was preventable is a bit more complicated.
On social media platforms, especially Twitter, multiple opinions and angles were being tossed around: should the girl have double checked the driver’s identity before getting into the car? Should her friends have taken responsibility for her to make sure that she got home safe? Should Uber implement more effective regulations to ensure their users’ safety?
These are all very valid questions — the student might have benefited from being more careful about whose car she stepped into, her friends probably could have been more concerned with her safety, and there are most likely steps Uber can take to prevent situations like this. But none of these solutions tackle the looming issue at hand. They all place blame on everyone except the true culprit: the murderer.
In my opinion, the conversation should be centered more around what we can do to prevent dangerous people from wreaking havoc on the innocent, rather than what the victim could have done to prevent her own murder, which was far from her own fault.
Talking about what the student could have done differently is not nearly as helpful as talking about the cause of the murder — going to a bar and calling an Uber to get home is not a crime. Murdering someone? That sounds like more of a problem.
The fact that this young woman lost her life in the process of trying to return home from a night out with friends reveals a significant problem in our society, and the question we should really be asking is How can we change the structure of our society to guarantee safety for everyone?
If we spend more time really thinking about where the roots of these problems are coming from rather than blaming those who do not deserve to be blamed, we can work our way towards a society built on trust and safety — where a woman does not have to worry for her life on her way home from a night out with friends.
Ultimately, erasing criminals from society is not a simple task. But we can start by focusing our attention on the motives of the murderer, and on the details of the situation at hand.
The goal is to create a reality where this young woman would not have to be so concerned with her safety in a situation where she was simply trying to have fun.
If we can turn the conversation toward bigger questions that tackle fundamental problems in society, we will be able to move closer towards a safer world.