The message at Ottawa’s SlutWalk on Sunday, April 10 was simple: Don’t tell women how to dress — tell men not to rape.
SlutWalk was organized after Toronto police officer Michael Sanguinetti told a security class at York University in January that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
Hundreds of people showed up at Minto Park, where the march kicked off with a series of speeches at 1:30pm.
Emily — only first names of the speakers were given — from POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau, Work, Educate and Resist) spoke of stigma, whorephobia and the realities of how sex workers are perceived.
“If I were to tell people that I was a prostitute and I was raped, people would question whether it is even possible to rape a sex worker. Being a sex worker does not mean you give up your right to consent,” said Emily.
Marchers left Minto Park and walked down Elgin St, waving banners and chanting, to the Human Rights Monument, where more speeches were given by the Families of Sisters in Spirit, the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women and the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC).
SASC speaker Katrina introduced herself as “a girl that has been called a slut way too many times in my life.”
The message from SASC was that the word slut is used too often in our communities — beyond the police and beyond the systems that are supposed to be there for women’s equality.
“We use it ourselves with our friends, our families, our neighbours — in our community all the time, and that is why the 90 percent of women who are sexually assaulted will never report it anywhere. That’s why they won’t do it because they know that one, they won’t be believed and that if they are believed that something happened to them they will be told that is their own fault, maybe because they are acting like a slut.”