In an earlier post, I discussed SlutWalks and how they are working to combat the idea that any aspect of a woman’s appearance is to blame if she is raped. It got me Googling, and before I knew it, I was finding SlutWalk, or SlutWalk-esque, stories from around the world and, let me tell you, it’s inspiring. So I wanted to share a few of my favorites.
But first, let me give you a brief rundown of SlutWalk.
In 2011, a Toronto police officer advised women that, in order to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault, “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized” (slutwalktoronto.com). And Toronto women, to put it lightly, spoke out and organized the first SlutWalk, saying “whether a fellow slut or simply an ally, you don’t have to wear your sexual proclivities on your sleeve, we just ask that you come.”
Since the first SlutWalk, more have sprung up all across North America, but it doesn’t stop there.
SlutWalk has spread to Indonesia:
For these women in Jakarta, the march had a more personal drive: a 27-year-old woman was gang-raped in a taxi and, instead of taking action to find the rapist, the government and police ignored her. Actually, they didn’t quite ignore her. Instead, the governor of Jakarta, Fauzi Bowo, spoke out, telling women to “wear sensible clothes, don’t wear ‘inviting’ clothes. You can imagine, if [a woman] wears short skirt and sits next to the driver, it could be ‘inviting.’ “
The woman, determined to find her rapist even if the law wasn’t going to help her, returned to the crime scene to watch drivers until she found her kidnapper. He has since been arrested and confessed, but had the woman not taken steps on her own, he would have walked free.
In response to the governor’s words, about 50 women rallied, carrying placards with slogans like “Don’t tell us how to dress, tell them not to rape.”
And then there’s this story from Afghanistan:
This protest wasn’t just about physical sexual assault, but about Street Harassment. Noorjahan Ackbar, co-founder of Young Women for Change, and 25 others took to the streets of Kabul and were later joined by more than 50 supporters. With just a few policemen for protection, the protestors were putting themselves in danger, but that didn’t stop them.
“Thursday, July 14, 2011 was the first day I felt like I belonged to the city I have lived in for most of my life. I realized that the women who were walking in their high heels and headscarves–as well as their male supporters–had so much strength and power waiting to be unleashed, and it made me so proud to be among them,” Ackbar said at the time.
And then there’s India:
In India, rape is considered to be the fastest growing crime in the country; since the country began keeping rape statistics 30 years ago, the number of reported rape cases has grown 678 percent.
The statistics — combined with several high-profile rape cases in New Delhi during that summer of 2011 — led organizers to call for action. In conservative India, though, the tone of the march was slightly different than the intensely skimpy marches in America. Said Trishla Singh, a coordinator for the event: “It had to be a little bit toned down because we’re talking about a different sociocultural context. If you talk about societal time frame, we are not in the same time as Toronto or the U.S.”
The event adopted a new name, which translated from Hindi to “Shameless Front,” but it had the same message, and hundreds of protestors came out.
For me, as I did the research for this project and thought about victim-blaming, it was largely in a Western frame of mind. It wasn’t that I was imagining it to be a solely Western societal issue; I just wasn’t even thinking about other parts of the world. But to see SlutWalks and rallies against victim-blaming pick up steam across the globe is encouraging. Even though some of the messages are slightly tweaked in different rallies, the root is the same: When someone is sexually assaulted, it’s not his or her fault.