Protesters march in Toronto 'Slutwalk'
Demonstrators march in Toronto on Sunday as part of Slutwalk, an effort to call attention to sexual assault.
April 4th, 2011
11:54 AM ET

Protesters march in Toronto 'Slutwalk'

Women and men - dressed however they want, thank you - came out in force Sunday in Toronto to protest what they perceive as a callous attitude by the Toronto police regarding  sexual assault.

Tongue-in-cheek and defiant in name, Slutwalk attracted about 1,000 people in Queen's Park and went off without a hitch, police said.

“It was very peaceful, and they got the message out that they wanted,” constable spokeswoman Wendy Drummond told CNN on Monday morning.

"We feel it was a huge success," Slutwalk organizer Sonya Barnett said in an e-mail to CNN. She said the crowd numbered closer to 4,000. "It was great to see that most people came out 'as they were,' not in the stereotypical idea of slut," she said. "Our definition is about attitude, not appearance. Just like sexual assault is not about appearance."

The demonstrators, some dressed in miniskirts and holding provocative slogans, clearly wanted to rouse Toronto residents and raise awareness about a very serious topic: sexual assault. In doing so, protesters staked their claim to take a derogatory term and wrestle it back.

"Just 'cause I'm a slut doesn't mean I want to be raped," said one female protester, according to CNN affiliate CTV.

"We should be beyond the myths of people ‘asking' or ‘deserving' to be assaulted due to their behaviour or appearance," Heather Jarvis, a movement co-founder, wrote to CTV.

The Slutwalk protest was organized in part in response to comments made in January by police Constable Michael Sanguinetti. Speaking to students at York University about community safety tips, Sanguinetti said, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” according to media reports.

Faculty and students at the university had been on guard since a wave of sexual assaults on the campus in 2008. But the police officers' visit in January, part of a community awareness initiative, was overshadowed by the constable's widely reported remarks.

Students expressed outrage that it took Toronto police nearly a month to issue an apology, written by Sanguinetti and addressed to York students and staff. “These comments were entirely inappropriate and I can assure you, the officer understands that clearly," Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said in media reports.

But by then, the anger had reached a boiling point.

Barnett, who left a comment on an article about the incident on the York University school newspaper’s website, called for a demonstration and linked a Facebook page. The page had more than 4,500 likes as of Monday morning.

On Monday, Drummond said Toronto police have continually addressed the issue since the January incident and are seeking to move on.

Barnett said this is not the end of Slutwalk.

"In looking to the future, we will be working on initiatives to continue spreading the word," she said. "As SlutWalk Toronto was initially conceived to be a one-time event, the response has been so incredible that we are considering this to be an annual event."

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Filed under: Canada • Crime • Protest
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. RUFFNUTT

    whens this happening next year?

    April 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. JAZZ

    @ Ruffnutt, That's my boy :)

    April 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RUFFNUTT

    im going to wait at the end of the march in my camaro wearing my three-wolves t-shirt and dark sunglasses...

    April 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. JAZZ

    So that means I should be ready to interview them while your scoping , HEHE :)

    April 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • silly2

      Why don't you & ruffnutt just get a room already? It's obvious you don't like women.

      April 27, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. doub

    Ok, maybe I'll walk around the forest in my Lady Gaga-like meat outfit and blame the bears when they devour me.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • e-dub

      Exactly. Thank you.

      April 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JAZZ

    @ Doub, Ya I say dont expect any respect if your going to show the goods.

    April 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Herbert

    Ah Ah Ah-Chooo

    April 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RUFFNUTT

    easy on the bear jokes for a bit.. we are all still in mourning..

    April 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. JAZZ

    You have issues if your going to punch a women in the face.

    April 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Blog For Schmucks

    Well it was a joke, but some definitely deserve it. I don't really consider someone who sits around on their computer all day to be a good moral compass. Sorry.

    April 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JAZZ

      I had the day off from work, do you mind?

      April 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. American Idiot

    I'll bet they were walking bow-legged.

    April 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. American Idiot

    Sicko. I don't punch women in the face. I get my girlfriend to do it for me.

    April 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary Ann

      This is the low-brow thug response that keeps violence against everyone alive.

      April 7, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. American Idiot

    I know I'm a pest, but one more comment. I've tried several comments with the four letter 's' word in them and they don't load. Even though it's in the bleeping headline. Weird.

    April 4, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. JAZZ

    Just a thought Elepharntnutts , could-a hosed them down good.

    April 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Itsame

    nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions or the resulting consequences. i understand that dressing like a ho shouldnt warrant ANY disrespect. However, if your in a hos uniform then dont get mad when your treated like a ho. if i went out in a cop uniform and got mad at everyone calling me officer id look silly too..

    April 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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