By Brylie Harris
Melbourne, August 31
Men, women and children alike converged on the State Library in Melbourne on Saturday for the annual SlutWalk. SlutWalk is a global movement which stands against victim blaming and slut shaming. Speakers from all backgrounds addressed the large crowd before the march down Swanston Street to Federation Square.
Among them was rape victim Van Badam who shared with the crowd her story of victim blaming. Her story started at a bar near King’s Cross in Sydney where she met a man who she said had seemed like a bit of a nerd. The same man raped her and left her in an alley.
She said that part of the issue with rape and sexual assault is that it is stigmatized. “People don’t want to think about the notion of sex being corrupted by violence,” she said.
The SlutWalk movement started in Toronto when a police officer said, “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” These words spoken at a small forum in Toronto at the start of January 2011 spread across the globe and sparked outrage among many communities.
SlutWalk participant and former performer Anita Stevens said that SlutWalk is important for survivors of rape to come together and act as a mutual support system. “SlutWalk is about that support and being able to have that verbal conversation about what’s happened and how it shouldn’t be happening,” she said.
When asked why victim blaming and slut shaming happens Miss Badam said it’s a fear response. “That girl got raped because of what she was wearing, what she was drinking and because of who she was hanging out with. So if I didn’t wear that, or drink that or go out with those guys, I might be fine. It’s false security because stranger rape is the more uncommon form of rape. Guys jumping out of bushes and raping women on the street is very, very uncommon. You’re more likely to get raped by your husband than by anymore else,” she said.
Miss Badam says that this is why people are weird on the issue of rape. “They don’t kind of think that the most personal kind of thing you can experience, which is, you know, penetration by another person can occur without consent. I mean, that’s a terrifying thought.”
Miss Badam says we can solve the problem of victim blaming and slut shaming. She said it is important to raise awareness because, “we don’t treat other victims of crime this way.”
Miss Stevens said it’s important that we continue to have the conversation about victim blaming and slut shaming.
While SlutWalk is a relatively new movement Miss Stevens said compared with the two previous there was a stronger turn out this year, even though participants were not as vocal. “There’s an undercurrent of stuff going on,” she said.
“I think weather has a lot to do with weather as well,” she said “this the only time where I’ve been like, yeah this would be good weather to get naked.”
First written August 2013.