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U of U students participate in SlutWalk to bring awareness to sexual assault, ‘slut shaming’

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Posted at 8:22 PM, Apr 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-22 00:21:24-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Dozens of scantily clad students paraded around the University of Utah Tuesday to raise awareness of sexual assault during the school’s first “SlutWalk.”

The goal of the walk was to bring attention to sexual assault awareness month and to call for an end to blaming victims for their own sexual assault.

"The intent of the event, is to say that our bodies are ours, and you need consent before you sexualize or touch anything you see," said CoCo James, Event Organizer.

"My outfit does not dictate you lack of control" and "to slut shame is to be lame" were just a few of the words written on signs that students carried through

campus.

“First and foremost to support survivors of sexual assault and to communicate to them that they were not at fault it doesn't matter how they were dressing they were not asking for it," James said.

These walks started in 2011 after a Toronto Police officer told students, "Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized," which sparked the social movement.

“The purpose of putting bodies on display is to recognize first and foremost that when we say that there is something that a women or anyone can wear that would make another person lose control implies that they're inherently rapists and they're not," James said.

The walk also encourages survivors to speak out against sexual violence. A Utah student named Tara (who asked not to be identified by her last name) is one of the sexual assault survivors who spoke at the walk.

"My personal experience made me want to make a difference and start to attack this issue because it's unacceptable that 1 in 5 to 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted and raped before they graduate college that's unacceptable,” Tara said.

The slut walk is a movement Tara is grateful to see make its way to the university.

“I view this as taking back that term and letting women know that it's not their fault and that things can get better and they're not reduced to other things they want to call them,” Tara said.