Grace Millane: A Case of Victim-Blaming

Grace Millane’s murderer has just been found guilty, but sadly, throughout the trial, he was not the focus and instead, her sex life was.


Grace was a normal girl, no different to any of us. She had just graduated from the University of Lincoln, born in Wickford, Essex. She, as many of us do, decided to travel after the stresses of university, but during her time in New Zealand, was killed. She was choked to death. And yet the media uncovers her private sex life. 


The incident happened a year ago now, and thankfully, Grace’s murderer was found guilty this month. He is a 27 year old man from New Zealand, someone she met through Tinder. It was a very normal situation any one of us could have been in. I know most of us use tinder, I know most of us want to travel, and I know this is a situation not uncommon. What is uncommon is the murder of a young woman. 


On hearing about this on the radio, I was appalled at the angle BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat were taking, concentrating solely on Grace’s sex habits and interests. The whole commentary was about her sex life. After listening, you almost forget what they're talking about: the death of a girl who was barely 21 years of age. There was no respect for this young woman, no empathy, and more to the point, very little focus on the accused criminal. Who is on trial here? Grace or her murderer? 


Each and every one of us has our personal preferences that should be kept private. Why is it acceptable that Grace’s private life be splayed for everyone to read, everyone to mock, everyone to judge, and her murderer have none of the focus? I am not confirming or denying that it could have been an accident, but it was his hands around her neck, it was his hands who buried her body in a suitcase afterwards, and it was his hands who tried to hide the evidence. Does this scream innocent till proven guilty? 


When Grace was uploading her profile to BDSM dating sites (as the whole world is now aware thanks to the media), it is not likely she was thinking that she would be killed. It is unlikely she thought that is what she was signing up for. The media are discussing this issue as if Grace’s interest in more aggressive types of sexual activity meant she consented to her death, as if she agreed to it somehow by using those types of dating sites. 


To state the obvious: you can like rough sex and not be killed. You can ask to be choked without being choked to death. Choked to death, let’s focus on that phrase a second. What happens when we are actually choking? What happens to our bodies when we fight for survival? Our natural instincts kick in, and the signs are very clear when panic sets in and we are fighting to breathe. 


A twenty seven year old man who cannot be named should take responsibility; even if it was an accident, he is the reason she is dead. It is not because she liked rough sex. It is not because she drank too much. It is because he choked her too hard and it killed her. 


The most awful part of the vast media coverage is that there is not one thought for the family of Grace, to the people who loved her and are still mourning her loss. Instead, there are only stories of her sex life to read and it is shameful that that is the focus. When will we learn that when someone is the victim of a crime, it is not their fault for based on their history or lifestyle choices, but it is, and always will be, the fault of the perpetrator.