Transport for London has launched a new hashtag, #HomeSafeSelfie, which asks women to post a pic on Twitter or Instagram after a night out to let their friends and followers know they got home safely. It’s part of a campaign highlighting the dangers of unbooked, unlicenced minicabs and recommending people download the free Cabwise app to get a black cab instead.
There’s also a series of print ads which all show women out at night, enjoying themselves, until the last photo, which seems to picture someone about to be attacked. Each features the tagline ‘Where will your night end?’ Elspeth Lynn is the executive creative director at M&C Saatchi Group, the team behind the idea, and told Campaign, ‘The #homesafeselfie hashtag has the potential to launch a genuine movement in young Londoners’ behaviour, and beyond.’
The trouble is, it’s not clear how exactly this keeps women safe. It’s always good to keep track of your friends, and pledging not to use unbooked cabs is smart, but promising to take a photo in your PJs is hardly a defence if someone wants to attack you on the way home. Plus, the majority of attacks on women happen in their own homes. And maybe advertising your location to strangers online isn’t all that safe, either?
While many women have embraced the idea, posting photos under duvets, clutching mugs, or cuddling cats, many others have criticised the fact that it makes women responsible for avoiding crime, rather than, say, blaming criminals for perpetrating it. Making users aware that minicabs aren’t a great idea is fair enough, but do all safety ads have to trade on the idea that women are constantly at risk of being attacked? Not to mention the fact that not all black cab drivers can be trusted…
As Radhika Sanghani writes in the Telegraph, ‘Not being attacked, or sexually assaulted or mugged isn’t something that we should see as an achievement – it should be the norm. Turning it into something to celebrate makes it seem as though it’s our responsibility to get #HomeSafe – in reality, though of course we should all take sensible precautions, it’s the attackers who should be blamed.’ Maybe TfL would have more luck making us feel safe if they cracked down on criminals? That probably wouldn’t inspire such photogenic selfies, though.
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