Lewisham residents joined thousands of women and men on London’s first ever SlutWalk in central London on Saturday
Women (and some boys) clad in bikinis, knee high boots and fishnets with the word ‘slut’ written somewhere on their body gathered outside Piccadilly’s Hard Rock Café en route to a rally at Trafalgar Square.
ELL spoke to Bethany Simpkin, 25, from New Cross who said that the day had been a very positive one for women:
“Today was incredibly empowering. It had a clear message that didn’t question our behaviour and that as women we will stand together and not tolerate rape.”
The idea for SlutWalk started in Toronto, Canada, when in April 1,000 men and women gathered to express their outrage at comments made by a police officer. During a speech to university students he said: “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
Since then similar rallies have been held across the world in Australia, the US and Asia . Next month there will be a rally in Delhi.
As the procession moved on towards Green Park chants such as “Stop slut shaming, start rapist blaming” and “Sluts united, will never be defeated” were met by loud enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.
Many held up placards against rape and in support of sex workers rights while a carnival atmosphere took over with music being played on drums along the route.
One sign read: “We are all chambermaids” referring to the case of Dominique Struass-Kahn, former head of the IMF, who is currently on bail in New York on a charge of raping a hotel maid.
The congregation came to a standstill at Trafalgar Square to listen to the horrifying stories of sex crime victims, when the grave message underlying the SlutWalk campaign brought the tourist hotspot to complete silence.
Sex worker Sheila Farmer, a diabetic currently ill with a brain tumour, described how after being raped, tied-up and strangled, vowed to never work alone again. Forced to cut down on work following the illness she began coordinating work for clients. She now faces seven years imprisonment on charges of running a brothel. Speaking at the event she asked: “What crime are we committing?”
Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke also faced criticism from the stage. Clarke, is the subject of some controversy for his suggestion that sentences for rapists should be reduced if they plead guilty at the “earliest opportunity”.