August 25, 2012

IconSpeak out against rape with Slutwalk and Reclaim the Night

The news has been inundated with awful stories about rape recently. So why not take a stand against sexual violence this autumn?


One thing after another

Anti-rape protesters at Slutwalk London 2011 Photo: Cemre Mor

From the Julian Assange case to the bizarre proclamations of US Republicans, it’s  been hard to avoid poorly conceived opinions on sexual assault and rape.

Respect MP George Galloway appears to believe that once you’ve already had sex with someone, initiating further intercourse whilst they’re asleep is merely “bad manners”. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa would seem to agree.

In the United States, Republican Senate candidate Todd Atkin declared that “legitimate” rape victims were unlikely to become pregnant, as “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”.

In Denmark, a Guatemalan trans woman faces deportation after being gang-raped in the male wing of a camp for asylum seekers. Anne La Coeur of the Danish Red Cross (who run the camp) said that: “We would not place her in a women’s dormitory because that is definitely for women”.

All of this hot air only serves to obscure the very real impact of rape and sexual assault. Home Office statistics indicate that in the UK 21% of girls and 11% of boys experience some form of child sexual abuse, 23% of women and 3% of men experience sexual assault as an adult, and 5% of women and 0.4% of men experience rape; however, these figures are likely to understate the scale of the problem.

It’s time to speak out against rape culture. So if you’re within travelling distance of London this autumn, here are just two ways in which you can make your voice heard. If you live further afield, why not look into similar events taking place in your area, or even think about organising something yourself?


Slutwalk London: the radical notion that nobody deserves to be raped

When: Saturday 22nd September 2012, from 12:30pm.

Where: Meet at the top of Piccadilly, march to a rally in Trafalgar Square.

More information: Slut Means Speak Up

Slutwalks took place around the world last year after a policeman in Toronto told law students that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” in order to avoid rape.

Slutwalk London say that no person deserves to be raped, regardless of how they dress or where they go. “The only way to stop rape is to put the blame where it belongs – on the rapist, whether they were a stranger, partner, client, relative, colleague, friend, or someone in authority.”

Last year’s good-natured march drew three thousand people of all genders. This year it will be taking place later in year because of the Olympics, but organisers still hope to draw a large, outspoken crowd.


Reclaim the Night London: say no to male violence against women

When: Saturday 24th November 2012, from 6pm.

Where: Assemble at Whitehall Place, march to a rally in the Camden Centre.

More information: Reclaim the Night

Reclaim the Night marches have been held in the UK since 1977, when women were told not to go out at night in the wake of the Yorkshire Ripper murders.

An annual march attended by thousands of women takes place in London every year. The organisers say: “With ideological cuts threatening the refuge and rape crisis movements in our country we need to take back the capital to demonstrate women’s support for essential women’s services, demand justice for survivors and spread the message that no woman is ever to blame for male violence against her.”

The march welcomes all women. It is followed by a rally, speeches and entertainment open to people of any gender.

2 Responses to Speak out against rape with Slutwalk and Reclaim the Night

  1. sixagilefingers says:

    So I’m trans. Is that still a problem on RTN?

  2. Ruth Pearce Ruth Pearce says:

    Reclaim The Night London used to have issues with trans inclusion. However, that’s begun to change over the past few years. Last year organisers responded to lobbying from trans activists and allies by making it explicit on advertising material that trans people were welcome. This year, it’s on the front page of their website:

    “All women are welcome at Reclaim the Night, including: women of all colours and cultures, of all religions or none, women of any age, disabled and non-disabled women, heterosexual women, lesbians, trans women, bisexual women, refugee and asylum-seeking women and any other women you can think of!”

Ruth Pearce


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