Heather Jarvis, Slut Walk, Toronto © Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com '11
The Slut Walk protest march was held in Toronto on April 3d, 2011 in response to offensive remarks made by a Toronto police officer during a safety forum at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School this past January. Constable Michael Sanguinetti allegedly told the meeting that “...“I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” (as victims of sexual assault). It was yet another example of blaming the victim for their behaviour rather than that of the perpetrator.
Walk co-founders Heather Jarvis and Sonya JF Barnett addressed the crowd. At the start of the march, Barnett explained the provocative decision to incorporate and thus re-appropriate the word "Slut "', which she conceded "... is a strong word with a strong meaning. If we had not used it many less of you would be here today... " The "Slut Walk" dress code did not require participants to necessarily 'dress like a slut', the point being made that to be targetted for rape does not require any particular outfit, let alone a provocative one, on the part of the victim. Nor should wearing clothes designed to attract be considered an invitation to assault. or absolve an attacker of responsibility for their actions.
Hundreds of protesters and supporters, male, female and other, walked from Queen's park to the Toronto Police Headquarters on College Street. Speeches were held at police station by Deb Singh of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, Michael Kaufman of the White Ribbon Campaign, Alyssa Teekah, SWTO York Liaison, and Jane Doe, the activist and author who successfully sued the Toronto Police in July, 1998, for failing to warn her about a serial attacker, known as the Balcony rapist, who was operating in her neighbourhood. "Doe" is still under a publication ban and could not be documented.
See the following sites and articles for further information.
SLUTWALK Toronto website
The Story of Jane Doe
A Book About Rape
Written by Jane Doe
‘Sluts’ march against sexual assault stereotypes
Nicki Thomas Staff Reporter
Toronto 'slut walk' takes to city streets
Who is JANE DOE? CHATELAINE, January 1999, Vol. 72, No. 1, Kim Pittaway