“Rape is cheaper than bullets”?

26 02 2009

Amnesty International has launched a new ad campaign in the London underground subway called Rape is cheaper than bullets: amnesty-ad1

These ads are appearing in subways to call attention to how rape is used as a weapon of war all over the world and will be up from now until March 11th right after International Women’s Day. They are meant to be provocative and make people think about the pervasiveness of sexual violence as a weapon of war in global conflicts.

However even if this campaign is well intentioned and meant to encourage more awareness and activism around sexual violence, what message is it really disseminating? What does it actually mean? Is the message that it’s cheaper to rape people than to buy bullets and shoot them instead?

Over at The Curvature Cara writes:

My first thought was: yes, rape is indeed cheaper than bullets. And I suppose that I had never thought of it that way before, or consciously realized that the incredibly low economic price of rape, combined with very high “results” in terms of effort to terrorize a people, would indeed make it desirable to the kind of people who are intent on destroying other human beings with limited funds.

But where, exactly, does that analysis get us? Because my first question after considering that was, and still is: so what, we should make bullets cheaper?

How exactly does this ad make people think critically about rape? The link between rape and war is not clearly made. It’s not explicit enough that Amnesty is trying to highlight the pervasive use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. The link between rape and bullets on the other hand is certainly made, granted it’s in terms of economic cost and the implications are rather vague.

These ads can be potentially triggering for survivors which can be problematic. Also, they do not seem to assign the accountability on the perpetrators but just make a cost comparison between rape and bullets.

I wonder how effective these ads actually are – are they sparking conversations among people about sexual violence or are they leaving riders simply confused? Are there more efficient and clear marketing strategies and campaigns that Amnesty can use to help raise awareness about sexual violence, because it’s certainly an important cause but the way they approached it isn’t quite so accessible and poignant.

One of my favorite ad campaigns is This is not an invitation to rape me by Rape Crisis Scotland. The ads visually debunk popular myths about rape.


scotland-campaign Myth: a woman raped for wearing revealing clothing is at fault for “leading a man on” and “asking for it.”

Reality: clothing (or lack of) has nothing to do with it.




Myth: a woman raped after consenting to any level of sexual activity is at fault for “giving mixed signals.”

Reality: there is no such thing as blanket consent – agreeing to one level of sexual activity does not mean agreeing to all types of sexual activity.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: