A female youth-oriented magazine in Singapore faced backlash after its advice columnist blamed a rape victim in a response to a letter.
In the letter published in Teenage magazine’s November issue, a rape victim gave her account of going over to a boy’s house, drinking alcohol for the first time and waking up naked next to him, without any recollection of what happened the night before, according to the Independent.
“There was cuddling and kissing and he started undressing me. I had too much to drink and did not protest,” the letter read.
“I don’t remember anything after this and the next morning, I found myself naked in bed with him and he said, ‘Wow! I didn’t know you were a virgin, honey!’”
The victim said she had nobody to turn to for help and added that she just wanted to die.
Columnist Kelly Chopard replied by telling the victim she “gave every indication” of wanting sex and should be thankful that the guy slipped on a condom.
“Most people won’t believe you are so innocent,” wrote Chopard, who is supposedly a certified counselor and teacher.
“You can’t blame him for thinking a sexual connection was all right with you.”
Although Teenage magazine is dedicated to empowering young girls, that didn’t stop Chopard from calling the victim “foolish” and “naive,” saying she should know what to expect when a girl is invited over to a guy’s house.
“I don’t blame him for thinking you were not a virgin,” the columnist wrote. “You acted like a girl who has been around.”
Chopard has since apologized on the magazine’s website, saying that she just wanted to “make sure the writer does not engage in such risky behavior again” and for the girl to learn that “certain actions have consequences.”
“I focused on helping her see that her behavior sent the wrong message to the guy,” she wrote. “I wanted everyone to know the danger of sending the wrong signals.”
However, the apology came a little too late as many readers took to social media to express their anger.
In a Facebook post, Celine Asril said:
“What’s even more worrying than the response from ‘Kelly Chopard’ is that people still read The Official Teenage Magazine. Readers want better. They deserve better.”
Asril also pointed out that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of information on who Chopard really is or if the columnist even exists.
Singapore-based news and entertainment site Popspoken chimed in with, “The best apology is an apology that totally misses the point. #victimblaming”.
Kok Hong Poh posted, “Newsflash: Counsellors don’t write advice columns, just as astrologers don’t write the astrology section. #duh”
Twitter users were just as pissed off:
Dear Kelly, zero thanks for perpetuating rape culture and belittling women. I’m sick. #kellychopard
— Victoria Aravindhan (@VickAravindhan) November 12, 2016
Fuck you Kelly Chopard
— ✨ syaz ✨ (@eroticguro) November 11, 2016
According to The Straits Times, gender equality advocacy group Association of Women for Action and Research, or AWARE, spoke out against Chopard’s column, saying it could “discourage readers from reporting their own sexual assaults, as it would reinforce their expectation of judgmental and unsupportive responses.”