Thousands of scantily-clad women to march in London as 'SlutWalk' protest reaches UK
Last updated at 12:28 PM on 10th May 2011
A Canadian policeman who told women to stop dressing like 'sluts' to avoid being raped sparked the worldwide protest movement that could see more than 5,000 women march through the capital.
Thousands of members of SlutWalk have already marched in cities across the U.S and Canada to display anger at Pc Michael Sanguinetti's comments, made in a health and safety talk to students at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.
Outrage: Global protest group SlutWalk was set up in response to comments from a Canadian police officer suggesting that women should 'avoid dressing like sluts' to protect themselves from rape
He reportedly told the group: You know, I think we're beating around the bush here. I've been told I'm not supposed to say this. However, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.'
Pc Sanguinetti later apologised and was disciplined, but remains in his role within the police force.
Following his remarks, made in April, women across the globe joined the SlutWalk Facebook page in their droves, sparking protests in Toronto and Boston as well as other cities across the U.S.
A 3,000-strong crowd marched through Toronto, a further 2,000 took to the streets of Boston, some women marching in their underwear with 'slut' scrawled on their skin.
The London march, set to proceed from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, has been organised via SlutWalk's London Facebook page, where 5,200 group members are already discussing the event.
If such a number turn out on the day, London's march will be the biggest yet.
United front: Members of SlutWalk took to the streets of Boston at the weekend to protest against what they call the 'victimisation and blame' of women
The SlutWalk London website says its protests aim to end what is says is the 'victimisation and the culture of blame' towards rape victims.
Organisers of the group branded Pc Sanguinetti's comments 'ridiculous and inaccurate'.
'It was incredibly damaging to women around the world, painting them as perpetrators - rather than victims - of a disgusting, violent crime,' they said.
'All over the world, women are constantly made to feel like victims, told they should not look a certain way, should not go out at night, should not go into certain areas, should not get drunk, should not wear high heels or make up, should not be alone with someone they don't know.'
'Not only does this divert attention away from the real cause of the crime - the perpetrator - but it creates a culture where rape is OK, where it's allowed to happen... after all, she must have been asking for it, right?'
The protest movement has rapidly gained pace thanks to participation on Facebook and Twitter.
'We wanted to do something to show our support,' said Siobhan Connors, 20, of Lynn, Massachusetts, a Boston organiser. 'We originally planned for a small event and expected about 30 people.'
Anger: Protesters say they wish to reclaim the word 'slut', which they say has been too long used as a weapon against women. 'Once you reclaim it, you take the power away from it,' said one
A member of the Boston Facebook group, Vanessa White, 33, attended the Boston event dressed in a pink jacket and fishnet stockings.
'For me it's an attempt to reclaim the word 'slut' itself, she said. 'Because once you reclaim it, you take the power away from it.'
But some critics, while applauding the overall message, have slammed the group for what they call its 'provocative' and 'unhelpful' name.
Blame: SlutWalkers want to end rape blame culture. 'Women are told they should not look a certain way, wear high heels or make up. It diverts attention away from the real cause of the crime - the perpetrator'
They have suggested that far from empowering women, attempting to reclaim the word has the opposite effect, simply serving as evidence that women are accepting this label given to them by misogynistic men.
Debate on Twitter says the group's name is off-putting to those who believe in the cause, but don't believe in marching under the 'slut' banner.
'This word marginalises women wanting to protest but not embrace the word 'slut', says one, while another adds 'there is no redemption for the male-defined word "slut". This is not liberation.'
Another user agrees. 'Women should not protest for the right to be called 'slut.', they said.
Injustice: SlutWalk protesters say rape victims are still made to feel like perpetrators
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