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Short skirts, signs convey 'Look but don't rape' at Slut Walk

Provocative clothing was meant to raise more than eyebrows at a Downtown parade Friday.

Short skirts, fishnet stockings and lingerie attracted attention as rush hour traffic honked and slowed near Tucson's 'Slut Walk.'

Organizers hoped their signs, bearing messages about sexual violence and 'victim blaming,' got noticed too. Among them:

  • "My little black dress does not mean yes"
  • "People who blame victims shouldn't dress like police officers"
  • "Sluts don't cause rape/Rapists do"
  • "Honk if you love sluts"

About 125 people, mostly women, marched from Tucson Police Department headquarters, 270 S. Stone, to the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone, to protest what they said are callous and indifferent attitudes toward women who are raped or molested.

The first Slut Walk was held in Toronto, Canda, earlier this year, after a police officer there blamed provocatively dressed women for being victimized.

Since, Slut Walks have been held in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Argentina, Ireland, South Africa, Austria, the Netherlands and even Kyrgyzstan.

Tucson's first Slut Walk was organized to raise awareness about the negative connotation of the word "slut," and the discriminatory attitudes toward victims of sexual assault, the Facebook page for the event said.

Bringing the event to Tucson was "unbelievably easy. A lot of people feel strongly about this," said Rowan Frost, one of the event's organizers.

Most people have the same attitude as the one expressed by the police officer in Toronto, and it's time that blaming of victim stops, and that perpetrators are held accountable, Frost said.

Victim blaming is one of the reasons that 60 percent of all sexual assaults are not reported, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

Frost said that she believes a fear of victim blaming keeps some Tucson women from reporting incidents of sexual assault.

Tucson police aren't aware of any incidents similar to the remark by the Toronto officer, said Deputy Chief Sharon Allen. No complaints of victim blaming have been filed against TPD, she said.

It's time to take a stance against violence toward women, said Ernie Freuler, who marched in the Slut Walk.

There is a sexual assault every two minutes in the U.S., according to RAINN. That's about 213,000 sexual assault per year, and 15 out of 16 rapists walk free.

"No means no. Even if you're wearing fishnets and heels," Freuler added.

Although Hayley Nicholas missed the walk, she feels very strongly about the subject.

Nicholas was sexually assaulted on her way home from work at night, one block west of the downtown police station, in late 1998. She was beaten, strangled and thrown into a car, she said.

"I saw animal fear in his eyes. He couldn't stop," Nicholas said.

To escape rape and certain death she jumped out of a moving vehicle on West Ajo Way, she said. "The car was headed to open desert."

A police officer found her collapsed on the side of the road.

After the attack it took the police two weeks to send a detective to her house, because police categorized her as a prostitute due to the location she was found and the clothing she was wearing, Nicholas said.

"The fact that they didn't send a detective for two weeks meant that they didn't care to find the guy."

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Slut Walk marchers attracted attention to their cause Downtown on Friday.


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