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March to End Rape Culture

Photo: Priyamvada Dalmia / The Daily Pennsylvanian

“Sluts are like unicorns: They are both imaginary concepts.”

“My clothes are not my consent.”

“Only yes means yes.”

The participants of Saturday’s March to End Rape Culture carried signs speaking out against sexual violence and objectification. More than 500 Philadelphians, 50 Penn students among them, gathered at Love Park to protest rape culture. The Philadelphia march, formerly known as the SlutWalk, started in Toronto in 2011 as a response to police comment that women should avoid dressing like “sluts” to avoid unwanted sexual attention. It has since spread to cities around the U.S. and the world.

March organizer Christie Eastburn defined rape culture as street harassment, transphobia, homophobia, slut-shaming and victim-blaming. Participants in the march want to see an eradication of the pervasive cultural practice of excusing rape based on a woman’s appearance or attire.

One out of five women in America has been the victim of attempted or completed rape , according to the march’s webpage, and more are effected by the practices of rape culture. On college campuses the number is even higher, with one in four women the victim of sexual assault during her academic career.

College freshman Maya Arthur attended the March with a group of students from ASAP, a club on campus dedicated to raising awareness about sexual violence. She was inspired to go to the March because of the Emma Sulkowicz case at Columbia University. Sulkowicz vowed to carry her mattress around campus until her alleged rapist is expelled.

“Colleges are renowned for covering up sexual abuse and rape on campus ... I’m glad I was able to go with the [Penn Woman’s Center] and let others know that we need to take a stand and we need to have dialogue and discussion concerning this issue,” Arthur commented.

Eastburn said she was very happy with the turnout. “We had our biggest turnout ever this year. I am very encouraged that this movement is growing and finally getting the attention it deserves,” she said.

Joanna Kamhi, chair of ASAP, shared a similar sentiment, stating that this year’s turnout of Penn students was the largest yet.

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