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Slutwalk, from Toronto to Delhi but where next?

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Jacky Fleming www.jackyfleming.co.uk

Harri Sutherland-Kay
WVoN co-editor

Mixed reports have surfaced following the Slutwalk in Dehli, India’s capital city, this weekend.

Slutwalks have swept across continents following the first march in Toronto this April in response to a police officer informing a group of students that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised” (see WVoN coverage).

According to the BBC, a recent survey has suggested that India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for women. In Delhi, sexual harassment is all too common, as is rape and abduction.

However, not all of Delhi’s residents were happy about the arrival of the protest movement. NDTV report that only a “dismal” 500 people marched.

Reports have focused on the “sober, conservative” dress of the participants, with many dressed in jeans and t-shirts or in the more traditional shalwar kameez.

Trishala Singh, one of the organisers of the Delhi slutwalk said, “I know one walk can’t change the mindset of people but it will at least be a beginning.”

But what is this the beginning of? The majority of debate surrounding the movement is so saturated with discussing the term “slut” and commenting on the clothing of women, that the real debate is getting lost.

What is clear, for me, from the slutwalk movement is that in order for there to be impact, there need to be widespread and radical political developments across the globe, on attitudes, justice and education.

In order for this to be effective it needs to come from the public (men and women), from rights and equalities organisations and from governments.

I don’t want to be sceptical, but I am. The slutwalk movement needs to move on. It’s been incredibly successful, garnering all sorts of media attention, since April, but there has to be a next step in order to make it useful.

One of the major barriers to this, to my mind, is that feminism, much like “women’s work” is often carried out behind closed doors, either as rarely heard political debate or in academic communities.

Central to the movement that slutwalk could play a part in generating, there needs to be a public profile of political agitation.

Anything less than this and I am genuinely afraid that the voices of women could slip out of earshot and fade to nothing.

UK Feminista are holding a summer school on 13th and 14th August in Birmingham, UK, which is set to be an incredibly useful couple of days on feminist campaigns and direct action.

This will be a brilliant forum to join the voice of the slutwalk movement to wider activism and resistance.

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