Yesterday morning I caught the 11.15 train to Edinburgh, despite the fact that there were flood warnings in various parts of Edinburgh, for Slutwalk that my beautiful hearted friend Nicolle McSaveney had organised – mainly on her own I might add. The walk has faced much criticism and jokes as the name of the walk is misleading but you need to appreciate the irony in it. At its most basic the walk is to aid the prevention of sexual assault and to support those that have survived sexual assault across all sexes and races. I agree with the critics in the sense that I believe that women do need to take responsibility for themselves and be careful in today’s society but to say that a woman deserved to be raped and that it is their fault because of their clothing – well that is wrong. Sexual assault on women has been happening since time began and it happens simply because there are bad people out there. The same reason that other bad things happen. There has been in the past and there will remain to be (to put it politely) bad people out there.
Yesterday received a good turn out considering this is only the second year the walk has happened and I know that next years will be bigger. We marched from Parliament Square down the Royal Mile and rounded things off at Parliament. The response on the way down was very positive with people stopping to pay attention, displaying encouragement and even people joining in. There were no bad responses on the day and the Police done an excellent job in making sure we safely made it down the mile. Thanks are due to the police of Edinburgh.
When we arrived at Parliament I think emotion involved in the march hit us all. We didn’t have to worry about numbers or if the walk would be successful. It was over and we all took a moment to remember why we did it in the first place. Some told their stories and others remembered why this cause is so important. The atmosphere was very oxymoronic – one of happiness but at the same time emotions of sadness ran high.
When I was still at school a woman came into speak to us. A woman that had been raped in Glasgow town centre – just down from Walkabout to be precise – I feel that the fact that it was in a location most people know brings a certain realness to the story. This woman wasn’t just a woman selling her story to a magazine. This woman was an arms length away from me and her story took place somewhere I knew well.
I have never forgot that woman or her story. What happened to her changed her entire life. She could no longer communicate with her husband or bond with her baby girl. What happened changed her. Unlike the majority of victims of sexual assault she reported her crime and the attacker was found guilty but then let out on bail – where he raped a young girl. He obviously then got re-imprisoned but not for as long as I personally think someone who has a record of being a serial rapist should have be.
At the time the woman was talking to us her attacker was getting let out the following year and she was leaving for Australia. This woman had to leave the country that she was born in because the justice system had failed her and she could not live in constant fear for both herself and her young daughter.
I occasionally think of this woman and I hope that she now lives a happier life but I find her story very nerve-hitting mainly because that could have been me or one of my friends.
Yesterday we marched for people world over that have came under the attack of sexual assault and have been made feel like a victim. Made feel like they could not report it because ‘there would be no point’ or made feel like they could not talk to friends and family about it because they would find a way to tell them it was their fault. In some way they were to blame rather than facing the fact that rapists rape.
In all languages yes means yes and no means no. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people actually learned that.
The march might have ended at Parliament yesterday but Slutwalk Edinburgh is not over. There is a lot of work to be one in the upcoming months. Work will be done to help raise awareness and hopefully in the end some kind of support system will be set up for the victims. This movement is set to become more than just a once a year march. If you are interested in getting involved you can at: the Slutwalk Edinburgh Facebook Page and if there is any messages you would like me to pass on to Nicolle (in the photo above) you can leave them here. I am extremely proud of her.