This Saturday local women will be taking to the streets for Byron’s first SlutWalk.
The walk raises awareness of victim blaming and ‘slut shaming’ in reference to sexual assault and rape, and over the last 16 months SlutWalks have taken place in nearly every country in the world, from Africa to India, and now it’s Byron’s turn.
Youth and Mental Health worker Nicqui Yazdi is one of the committee members who’ve helped instigate the Byron protest. She believes that the walk is particularly relevant in our community because of the high incidence of rape and sexual assault, particularly for young women.
‘It is important to educate people that victim-blaming and slut-shaming are unacceptable and that even using the word slut against another in a bullying fashion can have a serious impact on that person. Young women and teenage girls use the word slut against each other more than any other group. We would like to find a way to make this “uncool”.’
Modern feminism faces real challenges when it comes to getting people to consider that the issues and the values of feminism are still very relevant. Nicqui believes that SlutWalk seeks to address these issues.
‘Yes, for starters just as many men as women support feminism these days; it is almost a globally accepted thing. As far as relevance goes, as long as women (and men) are still being sexually assaulted, physically abused, judged, victimised… the list goes on… then, movements like SlutWalk still have a place in today’s world. It is about education and solidarity. We all know the difference between right and wrong, but the wrongs still keep happening and as long as they do, we need to keep speaking out loudly about this stuff. ‘
Nicqui doesn’t believe that it’s only a ‘male’ problem.
‘Often the highest verbal abusers of young women are other young women. I would like to see all people of all ages having more respect for each other. I do believe that the home and family is the first place to start educating everyone to be more respectful. Parents need educating too about sexual culture. There are always new laws that they need to be aware of in order to educate their children too.
‘It surprises me just how few parents even know about the “sexting” laws and other laws regarding intoxication and consent. Most parents I speak with have no idea that it is illegal for a boy to have sex with a girl if she is drunk. And neither do their teens. Nor do they know that sending naked or illicit photos through phones or emails or social media sites can land them on a sex offenders’ register, or labelled as a paedophile. Sex and sexuality is still a bit of a taboo subject for many people, so I think we need to encourage people to talk about it more and not be afraid or embarrassed by it. We all need to continue to educate ourselves and our children.’
SlutWalk is an inclusive event, with men and boys also invited. Nicqui believes people will do the walk for a variety of reasons.
‘Some will have been raped, some with be mothers and fathers of rape victims. Some will walk for friends who have experienced domestic violence. Some will walk to celebrate their sexuality. Some will be angry, some sad and together we will walk as a whole community, recognising all the various aspects of why this movement has become so important across the world over the last 18 months.’
SlutWalk starts at Byron’s Railway Park at 12 noon. There will be a gathering and entertainment at the YAC from 1pm with The Creative People’s Collective on aerial rig in the amphitheatre, then Ilona Harker (Mae Wilde). BYTE (Byron Youth Theatre in Education) will do their play Calling the Shots followed by SupaFresh and a short documentary screening. At 3pm, there will be a forum on sexuality and the issues raised by a SlutWalk. All are welcome. People are asked to wear red, white or black.