Why The April 24 'National Rape Day' Hoax Is Still Frightening For Women

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scared woman hugging her knees while sitting on a bed with her phone

TikTok users have been warning their followers of a disturbing new trend in which men are declaring April 24 to be National Rape Day.

The app has been the driving force behind youth political activism in recent years, so its influence over teens makes this trend even more terrifying as it seeks to trivialize sexual assault and pose a threat to young people both online and in real life.

Is the trend a hoax or should women really be concerned?

Why is April 24 trending on TikTok as "National Rape Day"?

According to users on the app and an Image of a post that has been widely shared across social media, the terrifying April 24 trend began when six men declared that this would be the “national day” for carrying out sexual assault.

The post states that these men have falsely claimed sexual assault is legal on this day, providing tips on how to commit such crimes.

As word got out about this trend across social media, many women were quick to warn their followers to stay safe and to avoid going out on April 24 if possible.

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A TikTok spokesperson has denied the existence of the original videos. They also affirmed the company's commitment to policing sexual assault references on the app.

"Keeping our community safe is our priority, and we do not tolerate content that promotes or glorifies non-consensual sexual acts including rape and sexual assault," the spokesperson said. "While we have not found evidence on our platform of any videos related to this subject, our safety team is remaining vigilant and we will remove content that violates our policies."

However, whether or not the original videos promoting this disturbing day exist, the fear this trend has conjured up for women is real.

One mother took to TikTok to share that she had taken her daughter out of school after several boys in her class had made “jokes” about sexually assaulting girls on April 24.

She said multiple parents had already picked up their daughters for the same reason and made complaints to the administration.

The pressure for girls and women to stay indoors and alter their lives on April 24 only adds to the fear women already face daily when going out alone.

Equally, it makes sexual assault prevention a woman’s burden instead of punishing the people engaging with this trend online.

In the US, 60% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16-24.

This impressionable group has the power to change rape culture for future generations.

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is likely another disturbing reason why this trend emerged at this time.

Whether or not the entire thing is a hoax, a viral trend that either seeks to create victims or mock and terrify girls and women shifts the focus away from bringing awareness and honoring survivors, perpetuating trauma and revictimization instead.

Sexual assault “jokes” are not jokes.

Many have been quick to claim that even if they existed, the first videos were just "jokes" and that the concept of National Rape Day was never meant to be taken seriously.

But given the proliferation of these videos, that no longer matters.

Women and those most vulnerable to sexual assault cannot afford to not take this trend seriously because of the threat it poses to them.

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In a since deleted TikTok, another user explained, “There is a mix of people who seem to claim that it is a joke and a bunch of other people who are trying to say it is very, very real. So out of an abundance of caution, I think everyone needs to just try and stay home."

Whether or not April 24 poses a higher risk of sexual assault than any other day is irrelevant. The fear and trauma this trend has conjured up are debilitating enough for anyone to be concerned.

According to some estimates, a woman is raped every two minutes somewhere in the US.

This happens every single day because we teach perpetrators that sexual assault can be a joke or a viral trend, while we teach survivors that their fear is unwarranted and does not matter.

How to Report TikTok Videos Promoting April 24 as National Rape Day

If you see any content that appears to promote or support this fake “National Rape Day” make sure to report it and then block the creator so the trend does not spread any further.

This content can be very triggering for sexual assault survivors so we can protect them by shutting down this trend and any other videos that appear to mock or promote sexual assault, harassment, or violence.

To report videos on TikTok, click the arrow below the comment function on the bottom right of any video. Then, select the flag icon labeled “report.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment, assault and/or abuse, you are not alone. Visit RAINN.org for resources or call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her on Twitter for more.