Monday, April 8, 2019

Victim Fashion

The idea behind a safety campaign called “Victim Fashion” by Netherlands’ ProRail was to encourage young people to be safer around railway lines. 

But the exercise received a big share of public backlash and the Dutch train operator had to defend their controversial crusade that showed replicas of ripped clothing worn by those injured and/or killed in railway accidents. 

Even Dutch infrastructure secretary Stientje van Veldhoven said the campaign was "unnecessarily severe", while the head of Dutch rail operator NS Marjan Rintel said it was important but not the right approach. 

"I have expressed our surprise, displeasure and horror to the management of ProRail", she had said. 

The adverse responses compelled ProRail to declare that it was "necessary" amid rising fatalities – they informed that the number of people killed on and around railways has almost tripled since 2016, with 17 fatalities recorded last year. 

This bizarre "fashion line" features torn jackets, shirts, dresses and other items of clothing and is being promoted under the slogan "Victim Fashion, made by accident". 

The pieces are accompanied online by descriptions of what happened to the person wearing them. 

An image of a scuffed trainer (right) has a caption explaining that a 14-year-old was reaching out for a phone she dropped on the track when a train hit her. Now almost 15, she is still in a coma. 

An orange dress (left) was worn by a 15-year-old girl who followed her friends across the track while the barriers were closed and didn't see the train coming. 

ProRail spokesperson Jaap Eikelboom insisted the "confronting campaign" was working – and said they knew it was going to be divisive. "If you do a confronting campaign there are always people who find it negative and positive", he maintained. 

"We think the campaign is working because people are discussing it. If we don't confront people with these kinds of pictures it's going to keep happening". 

That perspective makes sense, methinks.

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