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Walking for change: Slut Walk addresses sexual violence

by Kiara Alfonseca - Editor-in-Chief
Mon, Apr 24th 2017 09:00 pm
Photo taken by Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR

Brockport students held their annual Slut Walk in Rochester to shed light on the sexual violence men and women face on a daily basis.
Photo taken by Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR Brockport students held their annual Slut Walk in Rochester to shed light on the sexual violence men and women face on a daily basis.
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"Wear whatever you want. Look however you want. And you know who can f*** themselves if they don't like it? Everyone." 

Amanda Littere's recitation of the poem "9 Things I Would Like to Tell Every Teenage Girl" had the crowd of Friday, April 21's Rochester Slut Walk cheering, yelling and clapping with each item on the list - a roar of noise echoing from the base of the Liberty Pole.

Record turnout, almost 100 attendees encouraged the group to march past the busy businesses: bars, restaurants and stores. Littere calls the recitation an "out-of-body experience," empowering her fellow marchers through the cold weather.

Not too long before the excitement of the march were stories from survivors themselves, sharing personal, heart-breaking experiences of rape and sexual assault with counselors waiting on the sidelines for support. The stories made the importance of the walk that much more clear; when looking at statistics concerning sexual assault, the upset is overwhelming. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. The prevalence of sexual violence is an issue attendees agreed could not be ignored and in the words of co-host Rebekah Lineberger, "must be stopped." 

"I participated in the Slut Walk last year and I have a lot of personal ties to the event, to the reason for the event," Lineberger said. "I really liked how it was last year and it was a concern that no one was going to take this on from Social Work this year and I was like 'that can't happen' because I know how much this event empowered me so I want this to be successful this year also."

Hosted by Ameera Bhanji, Littere and Lineberger, with the help of the Department of Social Work, the annual Slut Walk crowd chanted "Wherever we dress, wherever we go. Yes means yes and no means no," along with "Out of the dark, into the streets, we will never admit defeat" down each straightaway and around each turn.

Eyes followed from the restaurants, stores and cars as the march passed by, gathering a few late stragglers along the way. Walking through the streets of downtown Rochester, locals are used to the marches, protests and demonstrations that originate from the Liberty Pole.

"We had a great turnout, one of the best turnouts we've ever had," Bhanji said. "It was a huge turnout and we really did crush it ... it's an ongoing issue and this is an event that happens every single year so if people didn't make it out this year, they can go next year or they can take it on next year and make it their project."

The organization of the walk is as important as ever. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime. 

Even with such a high percentage of rape and sexual violence, sexual violence is the most underreported crime; on college campuses, like The College at Brockport, more than 90 percent of survivors do not file a report. Slut Walk served to support and advocate for survivors, giving them a voice. 

"[Slut Walk] was something I wanted to do because it means a lot to me." Littere said. "I am a survivor."

The hopes for next year? More participants and warmer weather, and for all attendees and survivors to remember the key purpose and message of the event. Be it high heels, sneakers or combat boots, the participants of the events made their mark through the streets of Rochester with their fishnets and cleavage; regardless of what they were wearing, the message was clear: no one deserves to be a victim of sexual violence, and no one is to blame when they are attacked or assaulted. 

"I want people to realize that no matter what they have been through they are never a victim," Lineberger said. "You are a survivor."

stylus@brockport.edu

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