Updated: Aug 18, 2022
In light of recent events, where a number of women have come forward to report cases of sexual assault carried out by local tattooists, this blog will focus on personal safety tips for anyone getting tattooed. We’d like to show our support for and solidarity with the brave women who came forward. We hope this will be the start of the tattoo industry’s own Me Too movement, bringing permanent changes. We’d also like to provide information for tattoo customers (regardless of which studio they choose to get tattooed), so that they are well informed before their appointment.
It shouldn’t be the responsibility of the customer to have to look out for or check up on the behaviour of a tattooist. But recent events have unfortunately highlighted the need for blogs like this in support of customers.
Before we go on to talk about the tattooing process, we just want to cover some more general concepts to start with.
What actually are the definitions of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape?
"Harassment is a very broad term that includes many different types of behaviour — from touching someone’s knee to pressuring them into a date".
Sexual assault is a form of harassment, which generally involves physical contact with someone who does not want it. That could mean groping, kissing, pinching — anything that could be seen as sexual.
Rape is a form of assault. In the UK, it means forced penetration of someone’s mouth, anus or vagina with a penis. There is a corresponding offence called “causing sexual activity without consent”, which includes a woman forcing a man into intercourse".(1)
"Not all cases of sexual assault involve violence, cause physical injury or leave visible marks. Sexual assault can cause severe distress, emotional harm and injuries which can't be seen – all of which can take a long time to recover from". (2)
Is Harassment Illegal?
“Rape and sexual assault are against the law. But other forms of harassment are a grey area. It is not illegal to wolf whistle or catcall someone. However, some types of harassment are illegal under other laws”. (3)
This diagram acts as a reminder that sexual assault does not happen suddenly, down a dark alley, at the hands of strangers. It’s much more likely to happen in a situation where you think you are safe, at the hands of someone you know. It’s easy to tell yourself that some of the smaller acts that happen along the way, like crude jokes or sexual comments are not intended to be offensive or harmful.
Regardless, it's important to understand that they can be part of a harmful culture.
What separates sex, or a gesture of affection, from sexual assault is consent. That is, both people agreeing to what's happening by choice, and having the freedom and ability to make that choice. "Consent should be Clear; Coherent; Willing; and Ongoing". (4,5)