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Friday, November 28, 2014 | Last updated: 8:43am

UA community to march against sexual assault, victim-blaming



The UA community is joining an international movement on Saturday to protest victim-blaming in sexual assault cases.

SlutWalk Tucson 2013 will start at the UA Women’s Plaza of Honor. Participants will walk west on University Boulevard toward Fourth Avenue, stopping at Fluxx Studio & Gallery on Ninth Street, where there will be a discussion and afterparty to end the walk. The event aims to combat the idea that women who dress a certain way are to blame if they are sexually assaulted.

Sarah Findysz, a public management and policy sophomore, said the event promotes an important message about who is at fault in cases of rape and sexual assault.

“I’m sure rapes and sexual assaults … go unreported a lot because of the [victim’s] fear that they could be considered a slut,” Findysz said. “It’s great to be aware that it’s not your fault when something like that happens to you.”

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File Photo / The Daily Wildcat SlutWalk, Tucson took place on park, down 6th, and back around to university on Novemeber 17, 2012.

SlutWalk started as a street parade in Toronto, Ontario in 2011 after a local policeman said that women could avoid being raped by not dressing like sluts. Since 2011, the movement has spread to more than 200 cities across the globe, according to the SlutWalk Toronto website.

The Toronto Movement inspired the Sex Worker Outreach Project to begin sponsoring Slutwalk Tucson in 2011. The UA organization Feminists Organized to Resist, Create, and Empower took over the event in 2012.

Rowan Frost, a volunteer with SWOP and one of the original organizers of SlutWalk Tucson, said that although sexual violence affects individuals, it is also a community issue.

“Until communities make a decision to offer support to survivors and hold perpetrators accountable, to refuse to allow any excuses for rape, rapists can continue with impunity,” Frost said. “If anyone is called a slut in order to excuse violence against them, everyone is at risk.”

Frost said she thinks it’s important that the UA works with the community in this effort, because sexual violence is a joint concern.

The main goal of SlutWalk is to advocate against blaming anyone but the rapist for the crime, said Caroline Gray, a senior majoring in English and an intern at FORCE.

“A victim should never be [held] responsible for any act of violence committed against them,” Gray said. “People who violate and perpetrate are the only ones responsible.”

Other goals are to start a conversation about sexual assault and change the way society looks at certain issues, like sexuality and the word “slut,” said Kelly Ancharski, a junior studying political science and French and an intern with FORCE.

“Sexuality is something to be celebrated, and not looked down upon,” Ancharski said. “It’s calling attention to the way we view sexuality and violence against people.”

Marisa Calegari, a junior studying gender and women’s studies and psychology and an intern with FORCE, said SlutWalk aims to reclaim the word “slut” and give more power to the people labeled with that word.

“Anybody can be called a slut at any time,” Calegari said. “No matter what you do, someone’s going to find a way to bring you down, and reclaiming the word takes the power away.”

FORCE members stressed that the event is open to anyone who supports the cause, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Participants will march with signs and pins that say “slut,” advocating that no one deserves to be sexually assaulted, regardless of their clothing choices.

Gray said it’s important to remember that while the event is focused on a serious issue, it’s also an uplifting experience.

“Although the message that we’re promoting is often very heavy and full of pain,” Gray said, “SlutWalk is an environment that really fosters a sense of empowerment and community.”

SlutWalk

When: 4:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Participants will meet in front of the UA Women’s Plaza of Honor and march to Fluxx
Studio & Gallery on Ninth Street.

- Follow Jazmine Foster-Hall @Jazz_Foster


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