300 marchers, one message: ‘This victim blaming has got to go!’

    Saturday’s weather in Philadelphia was beautiful for walking through the city in summer clothes. Many people took it a step further when they marched in an organized demonstration called Slutwalk.

    About 300 men and women – mostly women – turned up to protest against blaming victims of sexual assault for the way they dressed. Many wore clothes considered sexual to drive home the point that rape cannot be blamed on what a woman wears.

    Courtney Wilkinson from Downingtown, dressed provocatively in thigh-high boots, cut-off shorts, a bra and vest. She said she is marching to support women who have been assuulted, pointing to a large sign where participants are encouraged to write messages of their experiences.

    “It’s for a deeper purpose, and for a lot of people it hits home. Looking at the sign over there you can see people’s confessions about what they’ve been through.”

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    Not everybody wore “slutty” clothes.

    “It doesn’t matter what you wear,” said Ashley Schneider of Morristown, New Jersey, dressed more modestly in shorts and a tank-top. “No matter what you wear, it happens. I could be wearing this and walking down the street and that’s just as important to know.”

    The Philadelphia Slutwalk is the local manifestation of a protest that began in Toronot after a police officer advised women to not to dress “slutty.” Since then women in cities around the world have marched in support of sex crime victims, often dressed in risque clothes.

    “It’s suposed to be playful, it’s a demonstration,” said Shavon Kavanugh, who first heard about Slutwalk while studying abroad in India.

    Her friend Emily Brown agreed: “I think playful is a very good way to put it. It’s playful, it’s serious, but we can take it in this tone of voice as well.”

    As the march got under way people, many onlookers on the otherwise quiet Saturday-morning streets were surprised, bewildered, and intrigued. Sitting at a restaurant’s sidewalk table as the demonstration walked past, a woman named Sam Bell said she was impressed by the turnout.

    “The power in numbers is a great thing to see,” said Bell. “God bless America.”

    The march ended outside City Hall, where speakers addressed the crowd with comments about changing a culture that blames victims of sex crimes.

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