Join us at SlutWalk in New York City

September 29, 2011

Alison Turkos and Stephanie Schwartz, members of the SlutWalk NYC Organizing Committee, look at the importance of the emerging movement against sexism.

FROM DELHI to London, Mexico City to Hong Kong, the SlutWalk movement has been energizing gender equality activists and advocates worldwide since April. The movement began in Toronto, Canada, when a representative of the Toronto police told students at Osgoode Hall Law School that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

Students and staff demanded an apology, but as SlutWalk Toronto organizers put it, they "demanded accountability, not apologies." Thousands turned up to protest, and a new movement was sparked.

SlutWalks in international cities have been especially inspiring as they highlight local issues around rape and sexual violence. SlutWalk New Delhi brought attention to the phenomenon of "Eve teasing," public sexual taunting or groping. SlutWalk Cape Town organizers highlighted a 20 percent rise in the rate of rape and sexual assault in South Africa from 2009-2010.

At Mexico City's Marcha de las Putas (March of the Whores), marchers criticized Navolato mayor, Evelio Plata Inzulza, who recently proposed banning mini-skirts in order to limit unwanted teenage pregnancies. SlutWalk has become a common forum for feminists in every locality to protest against rape and unite around sexual liberation.

In New York, in particular, recent cases have provided SlutWalk NYC organizers with the opportunity to confront rape culture head on. When Sofitel Hotel worker Nafissatou Diallo accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of raping her, SlutWalk NYC organizers brought dozens of activists to the courthouse to demand that he be tried.

When a woman accused NYPD officers Franklin Mata and Kenneth Moreno of raping her in her own home while they were on duty, SlutWalk NYC joined the newly formed coalition, End Rape NYPD, for several protests. When Park Slope residents formed the group, Safe Slope, to protest an ongoing wave of sexual assaults in Brooklyn, SlutWalk NYC organizers spoke at a rally and march of 400 activists.

Currently, NYPD officer Michael Pena is being held on $1 million bond and has been suspended without pay, after witnesses said they saw him attack and rape a teacher on her way to work in Inwood. SlutWalk NYC plans to be present outside the courthouse as this case progresses as well.

From the Strauss-Kahn case to the multiple trials of cops accused of rape, to the attacks in Park Slope, New York City organizers seized the opportunity to bring attention to police and politicians who commit, ignore and excuse rape.

One of the greatest aspects of the New York City SlutWalk was its organizing efforts. From the beginning, organizers attempted to be as open and inclusive as possible. Meeting details were posted on the group's website and all social media outlets, and flyering events took place in multiple boroughs in attempts to publicize the weekly organizing meeting and include as many voices as possible.

SlutWalk NYC is occurring at a time of particular importance--the rate of sexual assaults in the city have grown 24 percent since last year, according to the NYPD. Recently, New York has also witnessed the character assassination of Nafissatou Diallo, the accuser in the Strauss-Kahn case; the defamation of the accuser in the case against Officers Mata and Moreno of the 9th Precinct; and the recent Safe Slope rally in response to the rise of assaults and attempted assaults in the Park Slope area.

Due to the SlutWalk movement touching on so many topics, such as domestic and sexual violence, raising awareness around victim-blaming and slut-shaming, it allowed the movement to partner with many organizations, including the Third Wave Foundation, Radical Women, Queer Rising, Sex Workers Outreach Project New York, Sex Workers Action New York, the International Socialist Organization as well as many more to strengthen the fight.

SlutWalk NYC is a community of organizers who have banded together in this time of need, and we aren't going away after October 1. This movement will continue with our next event, "After SlutWalk: How Can We Fight Rape Culture in New York City?" on Thursday, October 13 at 6 p.m. at Walker Stage, 56 Walker St.

We welcome the public to join us to not only discuss the October 1 event, but to also discuss this feminist movement, what is in store for us, and what comes next.

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