By Aneeka Simonis
A BERWICK school caught up in an underage porn ring scandal has been accused of victim blaming after it hauled female students into an assembly and told them to stop wearing short skirts and taking ‘sexy selfies’.
Kambrya College, Berwick student Faith Sobotker, 15, publicly took the school to task over the policy announced on Thursday 18 August, filming a two-minute video powerfully arguing the length of her skirt or dress should not matter.
“I am looking forward to being able to show off my body without being sexualised,” she said.
Days earlier, the school was one of more than 70 named in a disturbing, sexually explicit photo-sharing website targeting girls from specific schools including Kambrya College.
On Thursday morning, Year 7 – Year 10 students were called in to an assembly and reportedly told they should stop wearing short skirts in order to “protect their integrity” or else they would lose the respect of boys.
The Year 9 student told the Gazette it felt as if girls were being “made to blame about it instead of the boys being told off.”
Her video, filmed in a classroom after lunch, made the point women should not be blamed for sexually perverse behaviours of boys and men. It has since gone viral.
“My self-respect is doing what makes me happy,” she said.
“I do not want these girls to be growing up in a society where they believe they have to be a certain way … they can be whoever they want to be.”
Faith Sobotker speaks out.
A female student can be heard in the background saying: “She’s speaking for all of us.”
The Gazette contacted the school to comment on the assembly, but to no avail.
However, in a statement on the school’s Facebook site, principal Michael Muscat wrote the assembly revisited an existing uniform policy, and that the school never intended to victim-blame students.
He added male students were also spoken to separately.
“I want to be clear here and say that in no way did we suggest that what girls wear makes harassment or abuse acceptable. This is never the case,” the statement read.
“The enforcement of our uniform policy and the abuse and the recent exploitation of girls online are separate issues and should be treated as such.”
He earlier claimed no inappropriate images of Kambrya College students were featured on the website which was shut down on Friday.
Catherine Manning, mother to a student at the school, said the assembly had left female students feeling “judged and victimised”.
“I am mortified that my daughter was subjected to such appalling messaging at the hands of those entrusted to care for her,” she wrote.
“(Female students) feel their school has sexualised and demonised them, and compounded the problem by sending a strong message that it is them, the girls, who are responsible for the boys’ behaviour, and that the boys are the victims here.”