A young woman in Vienna claims she was not only the victim of a crime, but blamed for it by police after the fact.
Identified only by her first name, Sabina, the 20-year-old woman says a man approached her at the train station, speaking to her in a foreign language while putting his hands through her hair. “[He] made it clear that in his cultural background there were hardly any blonde women,” she told the Swiss German-language newspaper Heute. “I told him to go away, and for a short while he really did go away.”
Sabina says the man returned with friends, who she believes to be from Afghanistan, and the four of them stole her handbag and her cards, then attacked her, “bashing” her head into the ground. “I felt so helpless,” she recalls. She then stayed on the ground, she says, while no one around her assisted. She eventually managed to make her way to the hospital and was treated for bruising to her head.
As if this attack wasn’t traumatic enough, Sabina claims that when she went to the police, she was told that she should not have been traveling alone at that time of night (8 PM) and, possibly even more outrageous, that she should dye her hair to avoid being assaulted. Not only is the idea that a woman is “asking for it” by walking around alone or wearing specific clothing an outdated and offensive fallacy, it’s downright dangerous – particularly when it’s perpetuated by the police.
“At first I was scared, but now I’m more angry than anything,” she says, regarding the police’s alleged instructions to stay off public transportation at night. “They also gave me other advice, telling me I should dye my hair dark and not to dress in such a provocative way. Indirectly that means I was partly to blame for what happened to me. This was a massive insult.”
As a result of being assaulted, Sabina says she will now avoid crowded places out of fear.