A police force has come under fire for warning people that they need to obtain consent before they “bump into that special someone under the mistletoe” and initiate a kiss or they could be guilty of “rape.” Hundreds of commenters disagreed with the gravity of the statement, even stating the police were “trivializing” rape.
The tweet was posted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which has approximately 159,000 followers. The message read: If you bump into that special someone under the mistletoe tonight, remember that without consent it is rape #SeasonsGreetings”
Shortly after the message was posted, Twitter users began commenting, and many were less than kind about the content of the post, particularly equating a kiss with rape.
One user wrote: “Bumping into someone, under the mistletoe, is now considered rape? Why do you trivialize such a serious issue with such a nonsense tweet?”
Another stated, “This tweet tells people that a kiss is rape. Do you realize what you’ve said?”
According to The Daily Mail, the original tweet was taken down after the news source contacted the police force regarding the message. However, copies of the tweet are still present on Twitter.
PSNI did post a follow-up message, saying, “We posted a message on Twitter yesterday that some may have taken out of context but the message remains the same; when you are out socializing over the Christmas period, please remember without consent it is rape.”
This isn’t the first time PSNI has faced scrutiny. In March, the Newry and Mourne division posted a message featuring a woman in distress with the statement, “Without consent it is rape,” but added a warning to tell people not to “overindulge,” which some social media users equated with “victim blaming.”
The “without consent it is rape” campaign was started by PSNI in 2013 as a way to draw attention to sexual offenses in Northern Ireland.
PSNI was part of a probe that was launched after allegations that PSNI officers and staff members tweeted messages that were racist, sexist, or sectarian in nature, suggesting potential prejudice. In total, six officers and staff members were examined during the investigation.