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Slutwalk comes to Halifax

A woman's dress is not an invitation to rape, say protestors.

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Evette Awalt was painting a banner for the upcoming SlutWalk Halifax when her 14-year-old son walked into the kitchen. “Can I come?” he asked. She asked him why. “I want to see the sluts,” he said with a smirk. Hearing this all-to-common sentiment from her son, the SlutWalk organizer felt tired.

Last February a police officer told York University students that women could avoid rape by not dressing like “sluts.” Around the same time, a Manitoban judge sentenced a man to community service for rape because he thought the female survivor’s makeup and clothing had implied that “sex was in the air.”

To condemn these detrimental ideas, a Toronto woman organized the first SlutWalk in her city. The events have since circled the globe. All genders have participated in the walks, wearing differing degrees of coverage---from bras to burkas. The idea behind the SlutWalks seems simple enough to grasp: The clothing someone wears is neither an invitation nor a justification for rape.

At 11am this Saturday, September 17, at Cornwallis Park, SlutWalk Halifax aims to underline the same logic. Awalt hopes to combat the idea that consent has something to do with the length of a woman’s skirt.

More so than any other city in Canada, SlutWalk is of particular relevance to Halifax. One sexual assault per day is reported in this city, according to a 2006 Halifax Regional Police report. Only eight percent of sexual assaults are reported, according to a 2005 Juristat report.

Nova Scotia has the highest rate of sexual assaults in the country---double the national average, according to a 2009 report by the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Acquittal rates for sexual assaults have risen in NS over the last decade and the proportion of prison sentences has significantly declined, while remaining stable for other violent offenses

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