Photographer produces 'mugshot' series, to challenge victim blaming


Jayne Jackson a MA Commercial Photography student from Arts University Bournemouth has created a fascinating photographic art series named ‘Asking for it’, which in a highly unique and clever way highlights victim blaming in cases of sexual violence. The exhibition which consists of 14 ‘mugshots’ will be on display at The Atrium Gallery at Bournemouth University from 7th May - 20th June 2020.

 Using make-up artists, actors and historical photographic techniques, Jayne has created a series of ‘mugshots’ each representing a different decade and each depicting a reason to victim blame for example ‘Flirted’, ‘Wore Red’, or ‘Swiped Right’. The fascinating body of work is the result of twelve months of specialist research. ‘Asking for It’ includes intriguing images, taken using historic wet plate collodion methods, which were inspired by research at The Dorset History Centre.

 Victim-blaming is the attitude which suggests that the victim rather than the perpetrator is responsible for the assault. Victim-blaming occurs when it is assumed that an individual did something to provoke the violence by actions, words, or dress. Victim blaming is a major reason that survivors of sexual and domestic violence do not report their assaults. Many survivors are already grappling with feelings of guilt and shame for what has happened. No matter what they were wearing, how much they had to drink, or whether they had a previously consensual relationship with the perpetrator, the victim should not be blamed. Jayne’s body of work highlights reasons for victim blaming in our society and challenges perception on societal beliefs around sexual assault.

 Jayne Jackson said ‘My initial inspiration for ‘Asking for It’ originated from my disbelief on hearing a report on the suicide of a young woman following the acquittal of her alleged rapist. During the trial she was made to hold up her underwear three times. The fact that the victim was being blamed, shamed and humiliated for an assault that she had allegedly suffered was haunting and formed the catalyst for the project. I wanted to create images that engaged and invited the viewer to question the aspect of blame and I am so pleased with the feedback so far and grateful to all involved, it seems to be making a positive difference and that is the important thing”.

In January 2013, An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, the first ever joint official statistics bulletin on sexual violence released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Home Office, revealed: Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence  report to the police.

HM Crown Prosecution Report on rape cases in 2019 found that in the year ending March 2019 alone there were 58,657 allegations of rape but there were only 1925 successful prosecutions.

‘Asking for It’ has already been booked for three solo exhibitions in Dorset during 2020, after its launch during Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week at the ECO HUB in Poole Dolphin Centre it will then be at The Atrium Gallery at Bournemouth University from 1st May – 30th June 2020 and The Top Floor Gallery at Poole Lighthouse from 12th September to 12th October. This launch exhibition is being co-hosted by the Dorset charity Sexual Trauma and Recovery Services (STARS Dorset) alongside their other activities that week to highlight the issues around sexual violence in the UK.

 Simone Gosden from STARS Dorset said ‘‘From the start we have been keen to support this photography project, the images are incredibly impactful and convey a powerful message. STARS Dorset are committed to delivering quality services to survivors of sexual violence throughout Dorset. We believe that projects that challenge victim blaming culture and educate the public and future jurors are vital in improving the experiences of survivors. Conviction rates for sexual assault and rape remain low and much of this is due to how victims of this particular crime are viewed. We hope with projects such as ‘Asking For It’ people will begin to question their views.’