There will be a SlutWalk in Johnson City this evening to raise awareness of sexual assault.
SlutWalks began in Toronto earlier this year to protest the notion that some rapes occur because the rapist thought the victim dressed like a “slut,” or provocatively, a view reportedly publicly espoused by a Toronto police officer in January. The first SlutWalk happened in April in Toronto in response to the officer’s comments connecting rape and revealing attire. Since that time these events have spread across the United States.
Valerie Treece and Kristina Bogue, both East Tennessee State University students, heard about these protests and decided to organize one for Johnson City.
“We’re just going to walk downtown from ETSU,” Treece said in a phone interview.
There is open parking at ETSU on the weekends, so campus was chosen as the meeting spot to begin the walk, Treece said. The city of Johnson City is aware of the demonstration and Treece said participants will use sidewalks.
Information posted on the local Facebook SlutWalk page said the protests are designed to bring awareness to and debunk the perception of rape being the fault of the victim.
“Let’s make more people aware of how victims of sexual assault are often treated unfairly by the police and the people around them,” part of the post reads. “I hope this will make more people speak out or complain if victims are not treated with respect.”
Anyone is welcome to walk. Participants in the walk can come to the area near the Sherrod Library on campus beginning at 5 p.m. today to hear speakers relating personal stories dealing with the crime of sexual assault. The walk is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Treece has been promoting the event on Facebook, where as of Friday afternoon, 831 people had indicated they would attend the protest march. Posts on Facebook were encouraging people to construct signs to carry during the march.
“I’m hoping a lot of people will attend,” Treece said. “There’s over 800 on the Facebook page, so if only half of that comes I’ll be happy.”
Treece said it was important to participate in an event like SlutWalk because no one who has been sexually assaulted should ever feel any blame.
“I just feel like they should know it’s not their fault, no matter what they were doing,” Treece said. “No matter what you wear, it shouldn’t be the victim’s fault.”