Press Release

10/14/2012

                                         TEMPE SLUTWALK SCHEDULED FOR OCTOBER 20

The Tempe SlutWalk March will be held on October 20, 2012 at 2PM beginning at Tempe Beach Park.

The SlutWalk movement began on January 24th, 2011 when a representative of the Toronto Police Department, while addressing a group of Osgood law school students, gave shocking insight into the force’s view of sexual assault by stating: “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.

Sexual assault is already a significantly under-reported crime. Estimates state 60% of all assaults are NOT reported out of fear that the victim will be blamed. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, in 2009 there were 1,639 reports of forcible rape. Of those, only 226 arrests were made and even fewer prosecuted.  Also in 2009, 703 arrest counts of sexual assault were filed in Arizona with only 160 resulting in convictions. National averages show that only 1 in 16 convictions result in actual jail sentences. The SlutWalk movement stresses that being assaulted isn’t about victim behavior, what you wear or how much you drink; it’s not even about sex. We are living in a society that teaches “Don’t get raped” instead of “Don’t rape.”

“As a woman, mother, grandmother and non-violence activist, I want to help build a future where sexual history and skirt lengths don’t determine guilt.  I have a personal history of life altering sexual violence myself, but who doesn’t?  Change is never going to come if we all continue to hide behind shame.  Getting past the word ‘slut’ may sound trivial or even sensational. For many women and men it is crucial to know sexual violence, rape and assault is not their fault.  We need to start blaming rapists not victims.  We must stop instilling fear into our daughters and start teaching our sons about consent.” says Lisa Blank, co-organizer of SlutWalk Phoenix.

Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a negative connotation.  Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous or said to be promiscuous, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back!  “Slut” is being re-appropriated. The word itself packs an unnecessarily strong punch in our society.  It is meant to disgrace, degrade and shame.

Panayiota Bertzikis, SlutWalk Phoenix co-organizer states: “Statistics shows that 1 in 6 American women will be sexually assaulted in their life time.  These numbers rise to 1 in 4 with the college population.  Highest yet are the statistics for women serving in the United States military where 1 in 3 will be sexually assaulted or raped. A recent study showed 15% of Arizona high school girls report being raped. We are looking at a public health crisis. Rape has no boundaries and happens to people of all gender, age, social economic class, sexual orientation, etc. Anyone can be a victim. I believe that SlutWalk is one way that can help change the way we view survivors of sexual assault.  I hope by making the public and law enforcement agents more sensitive to the issues that rape survivor’s face; that victims feel more comfortable reporting their crimes and they won’t be re-victimized by the public and community service workers when they do come forward.  This is the only way to a higher prosecution rate to ultimately prevent multiple rapes committed by the same offender.”

SlutWalk is a grassroots, global movement demanding that our previously silent voices be heard. We are here to call foul on all who blame the victim.  We want to feel that we will be respected and protected should we ever need the assistance of police, but more importantly, we need to be certain that those charged with our safety have a true understanding of what it is to be a survivor of sexual assault.

The Tempe SlutWalk will consist of a rally and walk.  Guest speakers will include non-violence activists and survivors of sexual violence who will provide their personal testimonies. It is an empowering event that should not be missed.

For more information, contact Panayiota Bertzikis: (802) 578-4769 or Lisa Blank (602) 628-3344

WEBSITE: www.SlutWalkPhoenix.wordpress.com 

FaceBook: SlutWalk Phoenix

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