Unsurprisingly, yet another disturbing trend has formed on the internet. Having started on TikTok and group chats, a rumour has surfaced that 24 April is also celebrated as ‘National rape day’. First of all, to be clear, this is not true. Although an official investigation is underway, no one knows exactly where the rumour originated from. Here’s everything we know about the vile and potentially dangerous trend so far.
‘National Rape Day’ or ‘National Sexual Assault Day’ is an alleged holiday claiming to legalise sexual assult for 24 hours on 24 April. There is not a holiday in the US or anywhere else in the world that legalises sexual assault at all, or for any time period. Rape and sexual assault are crimes, and will continue to be crimes on 24 April.
In April 2021, over the last couple of weeks, warnings of this upcoming horrific day started popping up on TikTok. According to many videos and reports that are currently circulating, the trend was started by six men on TikTok who shared a video encouraging other men to sexually assault women on this day.
They allegedly said it is legal to do so, and shared tips on how to carry out the act. . The origin of the video, first posted in March 2021, is uncertain and has since been removed from the platform for obvious reasons. . Despite this, rumours are still gaining traction as users continue to post videos on the topic, unknowingly adding to the trend.
A TikTok spokesperson told USA Today that “The supposed ‘National Rape Day’ trend being reported upon is abhorrent and would be a direct violation of our Community Guidelines, and while we haven’t seen evidence of this trending on our platform, our safety team remains vigilant and would remove any such content.”
Having dug a little deeper, it appears that these rumours about a ‘National Rape Day’ aren’t new to 2021. Archived pages from Urban Dictionary show entries for this day dating back all the way to 2018. Although these entries have since been deleted from the website, a ‘correction entry’—added by Stevi Hardford—now states: “Don’t rape people it’s bad and national rape day is to put a stop to it. National rape day is to stop people raping girls and sometimes boys.”
The day may go back even further—Know Your Meme wrote that “Jokes and posts about a ‘National Rape Day’ date back to at least 2010 on Twitter, although none mention April 24th specifically or purport the day to be a real, practiced thing, more so using the phrase for comedic shock value.”
Social media has inevitably lapped this up, and women are now being urged to stay indoors and ‘safe’ on the day, which is certainly ridiculous but also quite terrifying. The ironic problem with such rumours and gossip is that they literally allow things to be talked into existence. In this case, the fact that this entire hoax is not true must be what is circulated the most. That being said, the surfacing of the entire ordeal is also bringing people into wider discussions about sexual assault, which can only be a good thing.
The 24 April rumours have also spread through UK universities. At the University of Exeter, rumours were circulating about a group chat of students with a “plan to rape as many girls as they can” on and around the day. Exeter’s university has now advised students to ignore the threats and has publicly stated that they are “designed to cause fear and to play on serious and genuine concerns regarding sexual assault.”
According to The Tab, the university has relayed these rumours to Devon and Cornwall police and that they are “currently making enquiries regarding the credibility of the group.” It also said the police believe the rumours are linked to the 24 April “international phenomenon.”
Although there is no clear evidence of it all, one thing is for sure: social media can be, and mostly is, a manipulative tool at best, and this is what we should all be aware of.