By Shaya Rogers, Features Reporter
SlutWalk protest comes to Albuquerque
More than 300 people are expected to attend this month’s SlutWalk to raise awareness about rape culture and sexual violence, Bianca Villani, Prevention Education Coordinator for the Rape Crisis Center, said.
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the free event, sponsored by the Rape Crisis Center and UNM Women’s Resource Center, will be on Saturday, April 13. Protestors will begin at The Pit arena, at 1414 University Blvd. SE, then march along University Boulevard to Central Avenue and wrap back around. A community fair will follow the event from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., she said.
“Part of this march is raising awareness about this ugly culture we have, which we call rape culture, that says somebody, based on what they’re wearing, how they’re walking, how they’re flirting, what they’re drinking; they deserve to get raped,” she said.
The SlutWalk is open to everyone and creates a venue for the community to come together in support of one another and to talk about sexual violence, she said.
“This is one of those events that really draws people out. It hits hard with some people because one in three females and one in five males will be sexually assaulted,” she said.
New Mexico ranks in the top 10 for states with the highest rate of sexual violence, she said.
“This isn’t a women’s issue; this is everyone’s issue. This is a public health problem that we all need to know about. It affects all of us in one way or another,” Villani said.
Hannah Arlette, director of volunteers, said the walk is an opportunity for anyone that has had to deal with sexual violence to stand up and speak out.
“I want it to be a very empowering event. I know that even with the handfuls of people that I work with, a lot of people are survivors and this is a chance for them to get up and say, ‘what happened to me isn’t my fault and I’m taking that power back,’” she said.
Villani said there is not a dress code for the march and marchers are encouraged to bring signs.
“There is a community that says, ‘This is not your fault’ and there is a community out there that wants to help you and that’s what we hope to achieve,” she said.
Arlette said she hopes that supporting these community events will open a dialogue about sexual violence.
“It’s almost epidemic here. Unfortunately it’s an issue that we don’t like to talk about because there is stigma with it and it’s uncomfortable for people,” Villani said.
SlutWalk protests began in Toronto, Ontario in Canada in 2011 when a police officer said that to be safe, “women should avoid dressing like sluts.”
Since then, SlutWalks have become a worldwide protest, taking place on six continents and in more than100 countries.