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Global ‘Slut Walk’ hits London streets

LONDON (AFP) – Thousands of women took part in a so-called “Slut Walk” in London, insisting that they should be able to wear as much or as little as they like without facing sexual harassment by men.

The colourful march on Saturday saw most people wearing everyday clothing but some wore provocative outfits as they marched on London‘s central Trafalgar Square.

Slut Walk was first held in Toronto earlier this year after a police officer caused outrage by stating that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised” during a speech to university students.

The protest soon spread to cities around the world where women joined in huge numbers to challenge the mindset that victims of sexual assault should bear a degree of responsibility on the grounds that they were “asking for it”, including Nicaragua where dozens of women took part in a Slut Walking protest on Saturday.

More Slut Walks are planned in Australia, Argentina, the Netherlands and India, where skimpily dressed women will take to the streets of New Delhi on June 25. A government-backed UN survey last year said about 85 percent of Delhi’s women are perpetually scared of being sexually harassed.

The London march kicked off behind a banner reading “Slut Walk London: because we’ve had enough”.

Others carried placards reading “It’s a dress, not a yes”; “Women against rape”; “No means no” and “Hijabs, hoodies, hotpants, our bodies, our choices”.

One sign read “We are all chambermaids” — a reference to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sex case.

The former International Monetary Fund chief has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of sex crimes, including attempted rape, against a 32-year-old woman cleaning his New York hotel suite.

“It’s not the victim’s fault if they’re raped. Some men think they own the right to women’s bodies,” 25-year-old student Sofia Capel told AFP.

Casually dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, Rachel Sullivan, 35, who works with adults with learning difficulties, said: “I reserve the right to dress as I like.

“It’s unusual for us in England to demonstrate like this, but this is too much, what this policeman said.”

A man and a woman, walking arm in arm, both wore bras and had the word “slut” written across the midriff.

Student Liz Kedde, 27, wore a see-through top over her bra.

“I think it’s important that women are not seen as disposable,” she said, adding: “I never dress like this in the daytime, of course.”

Several men joined the protest, among them Andy Fell, a 27-year-old sound engineer.

“I came to show my solidarity with my girlfriend, and with the issue as well,” he said.

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