Slut Walks are just the beginning to societal change

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Slut: a word that has garnered a strong negative connotation and public uproar following 2011 when a Toronto police officer suggested to York University students to avoid rape, “women should avoid dressing like sluts.”

Why does someone’s outfit determine the justification of an act of sexual, physical and emotional violence? A woman wearing a snowsuit and a woman wearing a tube top and mini skirt deserve the same sexual standard: respect and consent.

Campuses across the country have since adopted the notion of SlutWalks to combat negative statements that suggest the clothing women wear base a standard of their consent to sex.

Programs and organizations on college campuses work to ensure a safe and trusting environment for students, but when 1 in every 5 women and one in every 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college and only less than 10 percent of victims report assaults, the victims are in need of more help.

SlutWalks are just a part of a large societal change that needs to occur to better the lives of victims and to ensure that sexual assault is not considered ordinary. Films like “The Hunting Ground,” expose the failure of college administrations to adequately handle reports of sexual assaults.

Most colleges and universities are required to investigate and judge reports of sexual violence without the immediate involvement of law enforcement. This is a small piece of a fragile and broken system that is less capable of stopping and punishing perpetrators and subsequently further hurting victims.

When the university finds campus perpetrators guilty, punishment generally results in only expulsion, expressing the idea college campuses are more lenient to the same serious and heinous crimes committed a foot off campus. Sexual assaults on campus should be treated to the fullest extent of the law to better protect students.

The Rape, Incest and Abuse National Network wrote to the White House, “It would never occur to anyone to leave the adjudication of a murder in the hands of a school’s internal judicial process. Why, then, is it not only common, but expected, for them to do so when it comes to sexual assault?”

In the past five years, movements on college campuses, aided by social media campaigns, are working to change the connotation of the word “slut” while also advocating for sexual assault awareness and an end to slut shaming. Positive changes are being made, but rapes and reports of assault are still happening on university campuses.

It is time to take away the security of lawful protection away from student perpetrators and put the safety and lawful protection in the rightful hands of the student victims.

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