Saturday, July 12, 2014

Annual SlutWalk held in Toronto

TORONTO - This fluorescent yellow bristol board recounts Julia’s past abuses.

Among the five incidents, include her being sexually assaulted in her bed at age seven while wearing pyjamas and on the train home in a skirt when she was 18.

She now proudly holds up the sign up and marches with the couple hundred protesters on Toronto’s streets Saturday for the third SlutWalk.

“At 19, I’m a victim no more, I’m a survivor,” said Julia, who did not wish to give her last name. “It feels like a very safe environment. This is the first I’ve been able to march and feel safe. It gives me a chance to speak out in a way I haven’t before.”

Chanting, “Consent is sexy” and “Our bodies, our choice,” the group made its way from Nathan Phillips Square across Queen St. W. and up University Ave. to Queen’s Park.

It took one remark to spark SlutWalk protests across 200 cities worldwide beginning three years ago.

Toronto Police Const. Michael Sanguinetti advised a group of women at York University in February 2011 to avoid violence by not “dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

The officer later apologized for the comment.

While organizers believe there has been some bridging between the Toronto Police and “slut-shaming,” they are looking at a broader picture these days.

“This year we’re focusing on issues of … Trans women, sex workers, drug users, because sexual violence affects them,” said organizer Natalee Brouse. “From speaking with people, we know that sexual violence and victim-blaming are still issues ... They keep needing to be addressed.”

A 30-year-old Trans woman, Eliza Tichborne, said she has been the subject of victim-blaming.

“I think this march (helps me) to let out my anger towards all of the bad things that happened to me and many other people,” she said. “I’ve certainly faced a lot of discrimination in my life and I’ve been in some positions where males have sexually harassed me.”

Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo was among a few speakers at the end of the march who spoke out against sexual assault.

“It’s not about what we wear, it’s time both men and women figured out that sexual assault isn’t going away,” DiNovo said. “One in four women have experienced it. There has been some bridging and education, but clearly not enough.”
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