Why the media’s treatment of Grace Millane continues to perpertuate a rape culture

If anyone is unaware of Grace Millane, she was a 22 year old English backpacker who was murdered in New Zealand and whose body was found in a suitcase. Scarily enough, she was only one year older than me now. It was a tragedy for such a young woman to die so horrifically. However, instead of dealing with her death with respect, the media are caught yet again in the act of victim blaming.

A working definition of victim blaming:

‘Blaming the victim refers to the tendency to hold victims of negative events responsible for those outcomes’ (Ryan, 1971; Eidenberg and Garland, 2008) (1)

Here is an example of some of the media headlines around her case:


Sky News article by Stephen D’Antal (2)


Independent article by Chiara Giordano (3)


New York Post article by Lee Brown (4)

While not all news outlets and journalists took this angle, it shows the behaviour in national news to blame victims for either violence or sexual violence enacted upon them. Its the headlines equivalent of ‘she was asking for it’. Instead of focusing on the man who strangled her and dumped her body in a suitcase, they instead want to focus on her sexual preferences. Instead they want to all hook their slimy little claws into this phrase of ‘BDSM’. Instead of being a young woman murdered by a man older and stronger than her, she is reduced to her sexual preferences.

On the 20th November Refuge Charity posted this on their Instagram feed:


(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6348335/

(2) https://news.sky.com/story/naive-and-trusting-grace-gave-list-of-fetishes-to-man-on-bdsm-dating-site-court-hears-11865347

(3) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/grace-millane-murder-trial-sex-bdsm-fetish-whiplr-new-zealand-court-a9210231.html

(4) https://nypost.com/2019/11/20/killed-backpacker-grace-millane-was-into-choking-bdsm-court-evidence/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s