Words uttered by Tallink director trigger scandal

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While commenting on rapes aboard ships in Swedish TV, Tallink Group director of human development and resources Vahur Ausmees said women should be aware, when consuming alcohol, that they may fall victims to rape.

«Every woman have to think about that first, how much they drink. They know where it could go. And also we can say that not every drunk person is raped,» said Mr Ausmees, in his comments to TV4 Nyheterna.

The words by Mr Ausmees, implying a woman would be responsible for becoming a victim, stirred up a storm of displeasure in Sweden, and are attracting increasing attention. Tallink Silja’s Swedish-language Facebook site is filled with comments sharply condemning what he said.   

Mr Ausmees later apologised for his utterance in the Swedish TV programme and assured it was unfortunate formulation.

«I apologise before all who felt insulted by my words. It was cut out of my interview to the Swedish programme treating consumption of alcohol on passenger ships on Baltic Sea, and its consequences. Unfortunately, the lengthy interview on personal responsibility for use of alcohol contained a badly formulated sentence,» said Mr Ausmees.

«I assure the unfortunate formulation does not represent my personal views, neither these of Tallink Group. Once again, let me apologise for my unfortunate use of words,» he said.

An apology also followed by Tallink Silja chief executive Kadri Land who underlined that wile the comment by Mr Ausmees may be a snippet torn out of a long interview, this still is an attitude that the company condemns.

Estonian gender equality commissioner Mari-Liis Sepper said that prior behaviour or appearance of victim will never lessen responsibility born by the criminal. Obviously, victims need to be sought amongst the perpetrators, inquiring after the intent of the perpetrator, not that of the victim.

In case of rapes, without exception it is always the rapist that is to blame. Rape as a crime against persons must be viewed with utmost seriousness, said Ms Sepper. In Estonia, it is timely to ask if our legal system and its enforcers exhibit enough sensitivity and understanding towards helping victims and punishing the perpetrators, said the commissioner.