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Oxford Student editor removed over ‘victim blaming’ article

ByRosie Barrett

Oct 7, 2014
courtesy of http://1.bp.blogspot.com

The Oxford Student (OxStu) editor Amelia Hamer, has been removed by the Oxford University Students Union (OUSU) after writing an article accused of “victim blaming” over an alleged rape case against the president of the Oxford Union.

Hamer was criticised by students who claimed the article included an alleged rape victim’s sexual history to discredit her. The story, which was published on The Oxford Student website on June 29 but removed shortly after, claimed that the victim was “believed to have boasted of sleeping with “Union hacks” and labelled her a “conquest-collector”.

In an email to The Oxford Student staff, Hamer claimed: “I’ve been called all manner of things over the past three months – “rape apologist”, “slut shamer”, “victim blamer”. I can assure you I am none of those things. What I am is someone who cares about the truth.”

Hamer also called the OUSU’s decision “unjust”, saying the article “was not illegal and did not break the PCC’s Editor Code of Conduct.”

Writing for The Tab, its former editor Siobhan Fenton called the article “chilling”, claiming it “attempts to legitimise the sickening belief that sexually active women cannot be raped under the twisted logic that if a woman consents to sexual acts sometimes, she consents to them all the time.”

Charlotte Sykes, former editor of feminist magazine and online forum, Cuntry Living, told The Student: “Hamer used a victim blaming logic that because of the woman’s sexual history, the chances of her allegation being false were more likely. This logic has no factual evidence and simply perpetuates rape culture.”

Critics also claimed Hamer compromised the identity of the alleged victim. Alice Nutting, a feminist activist at Oxford, told The Student: “I was able to identify the victim based on the information supplied in the article; it was legally dubious and morally reprehensible.”

Fenton posted a petition on       Change.org, calling for Hamer’s resignation and the newspaper to issue a full apology, amassing 317 signatures. Many who signed were members of Cuntry Living.

Sykes said: “It seems the CL community strongly supports the decision to remove Amelia Hamer from her position as OxStu editor. There was a strong disbelief that anyone, least of all someone in a relative position of journalistic authority, could consider it acceptable to write that article.”

Nutting called the community’s response “fantastic”, claiming “there was near-universal outcry when the original article was published and a lot of members signed the petition.”

Following the outcry over Hamer’s article, all content of The Oxford Student must now first be approved by the OUSU before being published online.

Fenton revealed she was relieved by the decision, adding: “I strongly believe that we need to start having conversations about how we treat those who report sexual violence, particularly how we treat them in the media.”

After Hamer’s removal, former Oxford Student editor Ruth MacLean tweeted “Oxford’s biggest student paper is now gagged, its legitimacy destroyed and its staff left in the lurch by our student leaders.”

By Rosie Barrett

News Editor

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