TV watchdog Ofcom has received several complaints about Emmerdale‘s sexual assault storyline despite the fact that none of it was shown.
Our soaps don’t shy away from hard-hitting storylines, often tackling issues that viewers may find uncomfortable or upsetting. A recent Emmerdale plot has hit the headlines after a number of viewers complained to Ofcom.
On last Thursday’s episode Alicia Metcalfe was the victim of a sexual assault by 14-year-old Lachlan White after she’d had one too many drinks and fallen asleep.
The hour-long episode was shown at 6:45 p.m., an earlier time than usual, due to a televised football match. Some of the complaints focused on this with viewers thinking the subject matter was too much to be aired pre-watershed.
The thing is the assault was implied, not actually shown on screen. And viewers were provided with a warning before the show about potentially upsetting scenes that “some viewers may find difficult to watch.”
Natalie Anderson, who plays Alicia, has defended the storyline telling the Daily Star, “Alicia does dress sexily, but that is her right as a woman. Yes, she was far too drunk for her own good. And yes, Lachlan is a child with difficulties. But no matter what, she was assaulted and that was wrong.
“I am so proud of Emmerdale for highlighting this issue and felt so compelled to tell this story,” Anderson continued.
The storyline comes only a few weeks after English barrister David Osborne caused outrage by insisting that a man who rapes a woman should not be prosecuted if she was drunk or on drugs at the time of the assault. His comments came after the Crown Prosecution Service announced that defendants must not only prove a woman gave consent but that she was in a stable state of mind to do so.
On his blog, Osbourne wrote: “I have always found it distasteful and unattractive the suggestion that as the victim was blind drunk she [was] therefore unable to give her consent to sex, or more to the point, she gave her consent which she would not have given had she been sober. In my book, consent is consent, blind drunk or otherwise, and regret after the event cannot make it rape.”
His remarks have been slammed as “sick” and “vile” by rape victims and support groups.