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Thursday, April 5, 2012

SlutWalk comes to New Orleans

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 2:16 PM

A little over a year after Toronto hosted the first SlutWalk, a march where participants protest against victim-blaming in cases of sexual assault, a group is staging its own march in New Orleans on Saturday.

Ever since last year's Toronto march, groups in major cities around the world have followed the SlutWalk template and staged their own marches. Winter Randall and a fleet of volunteers is organizing Saturday's march, which begins in Congo Square. "It just seems like it is such an important movement, and it would be a shame if New Orleans didn't join in," she says.

The idea for the original march came after a comment from a Toronto Police constable, who told students at a law school safety forum that women could prevent sexual assault by not "dressing like sluts." More than 3,000 people, many dressed provocatively, showed up for the march to the Toronto Police headquarters on April 3, 2011.

Some have taken issue with the march's name and have criticized the movement for failing to address the real issues behind sexual violence, but Randall, whose day job is at a local law office, says it's about standing up for victims as well as combating misconceptions about sexual violence. "(The word 'slut') is flung around an insult, but if you take power from the word it no longer becomes an insult," Randall says. "(The march aims to) make community members and law enforcement aware that rape is not a crime about sex — it's about power and violence. Men can be victims of rape as well."

While some protesters at SlutWalks dress provocatively to lampoon the idea of a "slut," Randall tells those interested in marching to dress like every-day women because "that's who are the victims of assault," she says. "Violence against women is everywhere."

But, she adds, "being that this is New Orleans and considering our love of life and the way we celebrate, some women will be dressed provocatively. But I've asked people to keep the message of the march in mind."

After paying for permitting and other costs associated with the event, any leftover donations will benefit rape crisis centers in Louisiana. The march begins at 10:45 a.m. Saturday. A PDF of the route map is below.


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