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SlutWalk Tempe Raises

Dialog On Rape

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Kiko Guntermann was part of the dialog on sexual assault engaged by SlutWalk Tempe this weekend along Mill Avenue.
An Assemblage Of Men And Women Gathered In Tempe This Weekend To Decry The Stereotype That Victims Are To Blame For Sexual Violence

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By Morganna Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

Oct. 22, 2012 — There can be no doubt that sexual assault is one of the least talked about crimes in the world.

They happen every day and in every place around the globe.

The ramifications on victims and society are multi-faceted and monumental. But almost no one talks about it.

That is odd considering how widespread sexual assault is in America. According to a Centers for Disease Control study released in December, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, on average. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men. Those numbers only tell part of the story – more than 1 million women reported being raped in a year and over 6 million women and men were victims of stalking in a year.

“These forms of violence take the largest toll on women, who are more likely to report immediate impacts and long-term health problems caused by their victimization,” said Linda C. Degutis, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., director of CDC′s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Much victimization begins early in life, but the consequences can last a lifetime.”

But nearly no one talks about it.

SlutWalk is hoping to change that.

Early last year, when a group of female law students were told by a local police officer that the best way to avoid a sexual assaults was to, “stop dressing like sluts,” he unwittingly began a dialog on the public perception of female fashions upon instigating rapes.

Soon thereafter, a march dubbed SlutWalk was held in Toronto and thousands of men and women took to the streets. Most dressed provocatively in an effort to express the opinion that the way a person dresses provides no excuse for a sexual assault. Using the term “SlutWalk” for the event was both a direct attempt to protest the officer’s use of the word, and an attempt to reclaim the word “slut.”

The theme was taken up throughout the globe in Oct. 2011, and companion events were held at several cities around the world, including Tempe. Almost two years after the police officer made his comment, the issue is still permeating.

Approximately 100 people met and marched up and down Mill Avenue Saturday to call attention to the dialog of rape.

The term slut itself is really controversial. I personally am not a fan. I don’t really believe in reclaiming the word and taking the power out of it,” said organizer Lisa Blank. “This is more about kids, you know, the girls that are in high school, the girls that are in college, date rape.”

The group met in Tempe Beach Park and gathered more and more marchers as they made their way south down Mill Avenue before making a U-turn at University Drive and heading south back down Mill Avenue. At the end of the event, several speakers stepped up to the open mic to share their experiences in regards to sexual assault and their opinions on why society must address this issue.

Kiko Guntermann, who went public with her sexual assault at last year’s SlutWalk Tempe, said the past year has provided a modicum of increased dialog with those in her family about the incident.

“This year I have a new sign,” Guntermann said. “It says, ‘I don’t always get raped, but when I do, it is always their fault.’”

Personally, she said she has learned that women need to have the strength to dress however they want while remaining strong enough to fight anyone who wants to make them a victim.

“I can’t say that what happened does not impact me daily,” she said. “But I don’t feel like damaged goods anymore. Everyone who showed up today — even those who were afraid to speak or hold signs — need to realize that they came here and stood up. By showing up to this, they have a voice and are standing up for what they believe in. Women can wear what they want and no one deserves to get raped.”

Morganna Guzzon is creative director of Modern Times Magazine.
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