Award-winning exhibition tackling sexual violence to come to Shire Hall Museum

Opening on 8th March, Shire Hall Museum in Dorchester is hosting a multi-award-winning series on victim blaming by Dorset photographer Jayne Jackson. To mark the opening of the exhibition and International Women’s Day, Shire Hall Museum is hosting a free open day on Friday 8th March, 10am to 4pm.

A Grade I listed building, Shire Hall was Dorset’s centre of justice from 1797 until 1955. Now an award-winning social justice museum, Shire Hall Museum brings over 200 years of justice and injustice to life. The Museum’s next exhibition Asking For It, created by photographer Jayne Jackson, explores changing opinions towards historical and current tendencies toward victim blaming, especially in cases of sexual and gender based violence.

Jayne Jackson, MA, BA (Hons) is a Commercial Photographer and PhD student at Arts University Bournemouth. She created the multi award-winning photographic art series named ‘Asking For It’ over a 3-year period. Based on multiple case studies, the images highlight victim blaming in cases of sexual violence through the clever use of historical styling and ‘mugshot’ format.

Using make-up artists, actors and historical photographic techniques, Jayne created a series of 23 ‘mugshots’ each representing a different decade and each depicting a reason to victim-blame for example ‘Flirted’, ‘Wore Red’, or ‘Swiped Right’. The fascinating body of work is the result of twelve months of specialist research. ‘Asking for it’ includes intriguing images, taken using historic wet plate collodion methods, which were inspired by research at The Dorset History Centre and earlier visits to Shire Hall Museum.

Jayne Jackson said “I am delighted that ‘Asking For It’ will now be exhibited at one of the sources of inspiration I found when researching it.  I had read a modern-day case of the suicide of a young woman following the acquittal of her alleged rapist. During the trial she was made to hold up her underwear three times. The fact that the victim was being blamed, shamed and humiliated for an assault that she had allegedly suffered was haunting and formed the catalyst for the project.  It actually echoed similar cases historical cases of women poorly treated in our legal system.  Seeing the courthouse and old cells at Shire Hall Museum was hugely inspiring to me and I feel there is so much we can learn from history, especially when we compare that to how survivors are still treated today.”

“This project engages wider audiences and invites the viewer to question the aspect of blame. The images continue to be exhibited, publish and used in educational seminars and workshops across the world, but Dorset is where the project was born.  Shire Hall Museum shares my passion about making a positive difference, opening important conversations and inspiring others to become agents of positive change.”

Victim-blaming is the attitude which suggests that the victim rather than the perpetrator is responsible for the assault. Victim-blaming occurs when it is assumed that an individual did something to provoke the violence by actions, words, or dress. Victim blaming is a major reason that survivors of sexual and domestic violence do not report their assaults. Many survivors are already grappling with feelings of guilt and shame for what has happened. No matter what they were wearing, how much they had to drink, or whether they had a previously consensual relationship with the perpetrator, the victim should not be blamed.

Tamsin Little, Co-Interim Director at Shire Hall Museum, said: “As a social justice museum, our mission is to engage visitors with the history of justice and injustice, inspiring them to make a difference to society, politics and justice for all. Asking For It explores the attitudes towards victim blaming over the last 120 years, raising important questions about justice in the past and today.

Working with Jayne Jackson to display her incredible exhibition is a privilege- her passion and dedication to social justice is inspiring and so evident in the work she’s created. We’re looking forward to sharing this impactful exhibition with our visitors.”

To mark International Women’s Day and the opening of our new exhibition, Shire Hall Museum is opening for free on Friday 8th March. This Open Day is an opportunity to visit one of Dorchester’s most historic buildings, from the Georgian cells to the courtroom where the Tolpuddle Martyrs were tried, as well as to visit Asking For It. Museum staff, volunteers, and trustees will be available on the day to answer questions and share more about the work the Museum is doing.

To find out more about Asking For It and the Museum’s Open Day, please visit

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