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Slutwalk News Report

Lucy McGuire finds that weeks after the event controversy is still alive and well

Published on June 24th 2011.

Slutwalk News Report

AT a time when sex seems to be the most talked about topic in the UK media, the leaders of London’s SlutWalk – a growing global phenomenon – couldn’t have landed at a more poignant time.

Less than a month ago on Saturday June 11, more than 3,000 women, trans-genders and even men, rallied their way down Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square where they ferociously stabbed the air with placards and shouted, “Yes means yes and no means no!”

They were referring to the hazy boundaries, which often become too influential in a trial involving a sexual assault.

Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman, aka ‘Mr Loophole’, wrote in his local newspaper in Greater Manchester that women should adhere to the advice given by the Canadian police officer who sparked the initial Slutwalk movement. He said women should ‘avoid dressing like sluts’ in order to protect themselves from rape or sexual assault.

Women behind the protest march, that has already hit Brazil and Argentina and is now set to reach India in a ‘tsunami-like’ wave, say nothing should sway the way a rape case is legally dealt with. And as they marched towards the fountains of Trafalgar Square in suspenders, skimpy low-cut tops and miniskirts, they say this includes, how a woman dresses.

Simply put by them, if a woman says no it means no, regardless of race, background, sexual orientation or creed.

As the crowds re-chanted Nancy Sinatra’s adapted famous song, (‘these sluts were made for walking’) thousands of women stood united in their belief that they should not be blamed for making themselves vulnerable to attack.


Speaking before the event, organiser and A-Level student, Anastacia Richardson, said, “It’s mainstream society which calls women sluts because they are sex workers, there’s an understanding that some women don’t deserve respect. We reject the idea that anyone is less worth protecting than any other woman. We are all equal. Slut means speak up!”

Since the walk, the Slutwalk movement has come up against heavy criticism.

Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman, aka ‘Mr Loophole’, wrote in his local newspaper in Greater Manchester that women should adhere to the advice given by the Canadian police officer who sparked the initial Slutwalk movement. He said women should ‘avoid dressing like sluts’ in order to protect themselves from rape or sexual assault.

In Freeman’s opinion, a woman’s outfit tells men what’s on her mind.

In contrast to the solicitor’s controversial comments, Lisa Longstaff, from campaign group Woman Against Rape said that no one can protect themselves from rape, and introducing censorship for the way sex is portrayed by people in the public eye is not the answer.

 ‘You can’t control the sexualisation of celebs through censorship,’ Lisa said, ‘I don’t think the answer is to ban things. Women from a young age should learn about what circumstances can make them vulnerable to attack – that’s much more crucial than what the high street is selling or what they are wearing.”

She added, “Women Against Rape was set up in 1976 when rape in marriage became a crime. Only in the last twenty years is it now acknowledged that rape is unacceptable, regardless of the situation. [It] has nothing to do with a relationship, it’s about the consensus.”

Rape and sexualisation has hit the headlines in a number of high-profile cases already this year. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was forced to step down as chief of the International Monetary Fund in connection with a rape on a chambermaid in a New York hotel. Cristel Ammis, of the Black Woman’s Rape Action Project, said at the event, that women of certain racial and class backgrounds could find themselves subjected to inequality in relation to rape cases.

Referring to a 1982 court case, where a black teenage boy was charged with attacking a policeman who sexually assaulted his mum, Cristel said that immigrants, and women of African descent, need to earn more protection from the authorities.

She said, “I wish we could go to all the slut walks where women of colour can speak up of race, of the struggles they are facing all around the world because of their sexual vulnerability”.

“We have had enough of the same government claiming that not all rape is serious,” another speaker shouted to the crowds, “We refuse to make the distinction where some women are protected more than others”.

As the slutwalk in London ended with an emotional account by former sex worker Sheila Farmer – a woman who was sexually assaulted and is facing prosecution for running a group of brothels – the feminist movement sparked a variety of response.

“People should be able to work together for safety and we are demanding that the CPS stop prosecuting those women,” Niki Adams, English Collective of Prostitutes told the crowds, “It deters them to come forward to report violence because they fear they are going to be prosecuted and deported. The police and the CPS have to review the obstacles for women to come forward and report.”

As the women stabbed the air with placards saying ‘It’s not easy being a sex single’ and ‘Just because you have a dick, doesn’t mean you have to be one’ the marchers hoped they could at least raise some awareness of an underreported crime.

And in the words of the slutwalkers: ‘When people ask why we are trying to make this change, I’m going to say, it’s because we can’.


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John WayneJune 26th 2011.

In my lifetime, rape has never been acceptable and no has always meant no. And thats well over fifty years. The real debate is the way in which cases are presented in court. It is an arduous procedure which some may well believe to be unjust. But should we sacrifice an individual's absolute right to defend himself in a court of law to prove himself innocent? I for one am totally against the death penalty on the basis that not even one innocent man hanged is worth this penalty; likewise rape must be comprehensively proven before we destroy any mans life. It's not that far off the current Milly Dowler debate actually.

AnonymousJune 27th 2011.

Have you noticed its always the ugly ones at these things?

Lisa FeinsonJuly 1st 2011.

Very brave of you, Anonymous.

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