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SlutWalks brave cold to get message across

Published: 10:43AM Saturday June 25, 2011 Source: ONE News

Supporters of 'SlutWalks' braved chilly conditions in Auckland and Wellington this afternoon to get their message out about rape.

Hundreds of skimpily clad people joined forces in both centres to protest comments made by a Toronto police officer to a group of university students in January.

Constable Michael Sanguinetti told students that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" to avoid being raped, the Guardian reported. He later apologised.

In Wellington the turnout was buoyant and the messages clear despite the capital not reaching more than 10 degrees this afternoon.

"There's always been policing of what women wear and that's not the important thing. There's always been this idea that a woman wearing a certain thing is easy game and that's not true, and shouldn't be acceptable," said one marcher Megan Welan.

"What this event has done, and not just here but worldwide, is start a conversation about that (rape), and that's a great thing."

Wellington protesters heard from Maria-Jane Scannell, the founder of SlutWalk Aotearoa, and Nicole Skews from the Wellington Young Feminist's Collective.

In Auckland it was also cold and miserable, with blustery showers keeping the temperature below 15 degrees, but that did not stop around 100 protesters taking to the streets.

"This (rape) is a common problem in New Zealand. It's something that's pervasive in society and we think it needs to be combated," event co-organiser Angela Smith said at the march.

Auckland speakers included Louise Nicholas, an advocate for Rape Prevention Education and Leonie Morris from the Auckland Women's Centre.

Angela Smith, along with Ruth Amato, say the New Zealand SlutWalk message is about putting the blame back on the perpetrator, not the victim.

"It's about saying 'a person's sexuality should never be stigmatised'," Amato told last night's Close Up on TV ONE.

"The focus is put on what women could do to avoid being assaulted, when blame should be put on perpetrator instead.

"It's never the fault of the survivor."

Relationship therapist Mary Hodson also told Close Up that while she agrees with the sentiment of the march, she thinks dressing up as 'sluts' sends a mixed message.

"Why would anyone want to look like that, project that kind of image," she said.

Family First's Bob McCoskrie said he agrees so-called 'slutty' clothing is no excuse for rape, but he still thinks women need to consider how they dress.

"We need to understand a male has testosterone. They're turned on by the visual. Images are important - that's why the porn industry does so well," he said.

"Marching for the right to be called a slut just doesn't sit right."

Amato said it is that view that feeds rape myths.

"The idea that what you wear can somehow consent for you - if someone's having a hard time understanding that then they're at fault."

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