Australia’s top military officer is under fire for suggesting first-year cadets should avoid being alone and attractive to ward off sexual predators.
The Canberra Times reports that Defence chief Angus Campbell told trainee officers to avoid the “four As” – alcohol, out after midnight, alone and attractive.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the focus should be on changing the behaviour of men rather than women.
“Sexual violence is a scourge in our community and men have to take responsibility for changing their action,” he told reporters in NSW.
“In terms of leadership, right throughout the community, people should feel safe.”
He said people should be able to go out at night and have fun on an equal basis.
Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally said the implication was that women were responsible for avoiding rapes.
“Let’s be clear – women are never responsible for not being raped. Men are responsible for not raping women,” she told Sky News on Wednesday.
Senator Keneally urged General Campbell to reflect on his language and consider how to improve his communications.
“It’s clumsy language,” she said.
Defence defended General Campbell’s remarks despite criticism from sexual assault support groups.
“In his recent address to the new cohort of ADFA trainee officers, the CDF noted matters in the media regarding allegations of sexual harassment and assault,” Defence told The Canberra Times in a statement.
“In his view, being aware of the four As – young attractive people, noting the entire class fell into this risk factor, alcohol, after midnight and alone – enabled the group to recognise and mitigate the threat posed by abusive or predatory individuals.”