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The facts that lurk in the dark of the night

By Chloe Hamilton

One night when I was at university, I woke up to the sound of screaming. It was around 3am and - bleary-eyed and shivery - I crawled from the warm safety of my bed to my bedroom window. On the doorstep outside, my housemate was struggling frantically with her keys and shouting at a man who lurked behind her in the gloom.

She got into the house safely and told us, through rasping sobs, how she'd fallen asleep on a night bus home and had woken up at the end of the route.

While she was trying to figure out her next move, she had been accosted by an apparently altruistic gentleman keen to walk her home. She declined. He followed.

It's not an unfamiliar story. Lots of women have similar tales of predatory men who think any woman the wrong side of a few Tequila shots is fair game.

The 'Drunk Girl in Public' video currently doing the rounds is the latest social experiment to highlight the very real danger some men pose to vulnerable women.

The YouTube clip shows an actress stumbling up to a number of men, beer in hand, and asking them to help her get home. Of the five that talk to her, only one points her in the direction of the nearest bus stop. The others instead try to lure her back to their homes, ignoring her slurred protests.

Response to the video has been mixed. Hurrahs of recognition from women have been met with cries of indignation from men. The overwhelming reaction, however, is that the experiment has been staged, or - at the very least - edited in such a way as to imply all men are a threat to women.

It's a fair assumption. The woman in the film only encounters five men, as far as we can tell. It's not exactly extensive research. It's also filmed on Hollywood Boulevard, an area of LA not famed for its stand-up clientele. So fair enough, the experiment could be a sham. But here's the thing, chaps. It doesn't matter.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there has been a 29% increase in reported rapes this year. Many more will have gone unreported.

We are quick to dismiss as a fake something that we don't like, vehemently denying the ugly picture the Drunk Girl video paints.

But maybe the most enlightening aspect of this experiment isn't the male response to a drunken woman asking for help, but is, instead, our own out-of-date reaction to the film and to the cold, hard facts beyond the footage.

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