In the US and Canada thousands of people – some dressed in jeans, others more provocatively – are protesting in order to highlight a culture in which the victim is blamed rather than the rapist or abuser.
Last month, one of these marches, or “SlutWalks”, took place in Toronto, gathering some 3,000 people. (photo, from ctv.ca)
There has also been “SlutWalks” in Dallas, Asheville in North Carolina, and in Ottawa, the Canadian capital.
This new protest movement started in reaction of police officer Constable Michael Sanguinetti’s ill-judged advice to women students.
While giving a talk on health and safety to a group of students at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, the policeman reportedly told them : “You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here […] I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”.
He has since apologised for his remarks and has been disciplined by the Toronto police, but remains on duty.
‘Shame and degradation’
Another “SlutWalk” is due to happen Saturday in Boston and nearly 2,500 people have already signed up to attend it via Facebook.
Boston organiser Siobhan Connors, 20, explained: “The event is in protest of a culture that we think is too permissive when it comes to rape and sexual assault.”
“It’s to bring awareness to the shame and degradation women still face for expressing their sexuality… essentially for behaving in a healthy and sexual way.”
“SlutWalks” are also planned in Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Reno and Austin.
The aim of the movement is to “re-appropriate” the word slut, according to SlutWalk Toronto website.
“Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work,” it says.
The marches usually end with workshops on stopping sexual violence and speakers calling on law enforcement agencies not to blame victims after sexual assaults.