Posts tagged "slutwalk london"

Cristel speaking at Slutwalk London on behalf of Black Women’s Rape Action Project.

Caitlin’s poem from Slutwalk. More footage hopefully to come!

Our protest outside the Crown Prosecution Service - (trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault)

On 1st July Slut Means Speak Up, together with Women Against Rape, the English Collective of Prostitutes, WinVisible and the Black Women’s Rape Action Project, took to the streets to picket the Crown Prosecution Service. We demanded an end to the unjust and misogynistic treatment of those who report rape only to be derided, shamed and blamed by the police and courts, and demanded protection for the sex workers who the legal system prosecutes for working together for safety, preventing them from reporting sexual violence.

We came together to protest the 6.7% rape conviction rate, the attack on women by the legal system and the criminalisation of sex workers - but statistics and legal reports come nowhere near to explaining the anger and pain that rape victims and sex workers feel at the hands of a legal system which claims to protect us - but instead protects our attackers. Almost everyone at this rally felt empowered to take the microphone to speak about their own experiences - from a sex worker who had been harassed by police on the streets of Paris, to a man who asked the police to act on the sexual grooming of his thirteen year old daughter only to find himself facing an accusation of harassment against police staff, to a woman who held up a picture of her battered face taken after her rape, to a young woman who spoke of the harassment and ridicule young women reporting sexual assault face from the police. A speaker from Women Against Rape told of a case where a man had filmed the woman during his rape of her. At great risk to herself, the woman managed to obtain the video and take her attacker to court - where she was then shown the video in the courtroom. She broke down crying and the judge said that the case was ‘too traumatic’ and put it ‘on file’ - which means that there is no chance of re-opening the case to win justice for this woman in the future.

Niki Adams, from the English Collective of Prostitutes, spoke of the case of Sheila Farmer - a sex worker who reported a gang which had been roaming the area and attacking women, only to find herself on trial for working together with other sex workers for safety. The police charged her with brothel keeping, raided her flat and confiscated her possessions. We were also there to support two women, both mothers, imprisoned for making so-called ‘false allegations’: Gail Sherwood, who was found half naked in a remote field, her hands tied above her head, visibly suffering from shock - yet the police called her ‘a sad, lonely 50-year old who couldn’t get a man and had made it all up’ and lost key evidence. The other is Leyla Ibrahim, a woman who claimed she was attacked on January 4th, 2009. Her mother reports that ‘she scrubbed herself in the shower until she was practically bleeding. She forced her brother to sit in her room with her so she was not alone’ after her assault, and an expert medical witness claimed that it was ‘unlikely’ that her injuries were self inflicted - yet she is now in prison for making a ‘false allegation’ of rape. And a young woman spoke of her rape in her flat at the hands of a friend, which the police told her was her fault for letting the man into her flat. These are real people with real experiences and real anger. We cannot be covered up and silenced by government reports which admit the ‘regrettable’ state of rape prosecutions but take no action, or by the rape apologists who claim that women were either lying or “asking for it”. Our voices are loud and our demands clear.

For a long time rape has been something which our police, law officials and government have been happy to force behind closed doors. Either evidence is lost or badly handled, or her clothes, sexual history, age or skin colour mean that it was not rape and she was in fact “asking for it”, or “men can’t get raped” or it is not “proper” rape - too ‘complicated’ for the attacker to be held to account, as Ken Clarke says - or the woman must be lying. But on the 1st of July we were angry and determined to be heard as our words echoed loudly through the street - giving the Crown Prosecution Service no choice but to listen. Rape - the private pain of the individual - is being transformed into the public protest of the survivor as people of all genders, races and backgrounds come together to insist that we are protected and treated fairly by the law which claims to be accountable to us - yet refuses to protect society’s most vulnerable people.

The success of this demonstration mean that it is likely we will hold another one in the near future so watch this space! Thank you so much to everyone who came and made it such a powerful protest and such a powerful celebration of our refusal to be victimised and intimidated by those who claim to protect us - we hope to see you again and to anyone who couldn’t make it, we hope that soon you will join your voice to ours.

Photo: Niki Adams

More photos of the event can be found here and here.


We’ve made a model letter for you to send to the individuals mentioned in the last post, if you want some guidance. We recommend adding some personal input, however, as template letters become quickly identifiable and can be dismissed.

We’ve also put the choice between ‘implement’ and ‘support’ in the first sentence. This is because, while Lynne Featherstone, Ken Clarke, Theresa May and Keir Starmer can implement the prosecution of rapists, Jo Johnson and Yvette Cooper can only support it.

Let us know if you get any responses!


I am writing to you to implement/support the call to prosecute rapists, not rape survivors. Rape and sexual assault are rarely taken seriously by those in authority. Survivors of rape are made to feel that they cannot report to the police for fear of being penalised themselves, or being disbelieved. [Insert personal view here – personal experiences if relevant]

There are many changes that need to be made in order to improve the rape conviction rate and change people’s attitudes to victims. You have the power to make these changes. I urge you to ensure that:

  • Accusations of rape and sexual assault are taken seriously by police and courts and victims respected
  • Victim blaming which focuses on the survivor’s clothing, profession, sexuality, race, ability, age, sexual history comes to an end

In particular, the police and Crown Prosecution Service should focus on prosecuting rapists and stop prosecuting rape victims for so-called false allegations. Sex workers who are working together in safety should also not be prosecuted – the CPS has the power to decide that such prosecutions are not in the public interest.

If officers and prosecutors are not sacked for their negligent treatment of rape and sexual assault, they are led to believe that it is acceptable behaviour. The power remains in the hands of those who do not respect the very people they are meant to be protecting.

I urge you to address this problem, as it affects everyone. To refuse to do so is to enable rape-apologism and victim-blaming and leaves violent attackers free to attack again.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely,

SlutWalk London brought thousands onto the streets demanding protection for all rape survivors and prosecution for rapists.

On 1 July, Slut Means Speak Up is targeting the Crown Prosecution Service(CPS) for its appalling track record on rape.

Here’s the Facebook event: link

FACTS: Over 90% of rapes are never reported.  Of those reported, only 6.7% end in conviction.  One in four women suffers domestic violence; at least two women a week are murdered by partners or ex-partners.  In up to 90% of attacks on mothers, children are present; in 45-70% the father is violent to the children too.  Over 30 women who reported rape have been disbelieved and imprisoned in the last 12 months.  Asylum seekers who report rape and other torture are often deported.  Sex workers who come forward risk prosecution.  

We demand that the CPS:

1.    Stop prosecuting rape survivors for so-called false allegations, and prosecute rapists instead.  
Compelling evidence of rape is ignored, lost or dismissed by biased and bungling police and prosecutors.  Survivors who have been prosecuted include: 1) Layla Ibrahim, a young woman attacked on the street and jailed for three years while pregnant; other rape survivors in the area have described a similar attacker. 2) Gail Sherwood, a 51-year-old mother of three jailed for two years after reporting being raped three times by an unknown stalker.  The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has refused to do anything to redress these miscarriages of justice.  But the CPS is doing a review of such prosecutions – let’s tell them what we think.

2.    Stop prosecuting sex workers working together for safety.  Drop the prosecution of Sheila Farmer.
At Slutwalk, Ms Farmer described how after a vicious rape she couldn’t work alone.  The brothel-keeping law makes it illegal for women to work together.  But the CPS has discretion and must only prosecute when it is in the public interest.  Ms Farmer is seriously ill – a diabetic since childhood, she suffers from a brain tumour.  She could face a seven year prison sentence.  This has already aggravated her life-threatening condition.  Over 1000 people have emailed her MP that this prosecution is not in the public interest. 

Black Women’s Rape Action Project, the English Collective of Prostitutes and Women Against Rape launched this protest at London SlutWalk as part of Slut Means Speak Up.  Let’s all turn up at the CPS on 1 July to say  we’ve had enough  … of being blamed for rape by police and courts, of being deprived of protection, of being denied resources and left vulnerable to exploitation and violence.

If we don’t speak up, these injustices will continue and attackers will go free to rape again.  Please get this information to others.  Come to the protest with your banners and placards.  If you can’t come (or even if you can) write to the following policy-makers to demand change – police and prosecutors who don’t do their job should be sacked.

Keir Starmer,  Director of Public Prosecutions  
[email protected]   
Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge
London, SE1 9HS, Tel: 020 3357 0000


Jo Johnson, Sheila Farmer’s MP. 
[email protected]
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA


Theresa May, Home Secretary 
[email protected]  
[email protected]


Ken Clarke, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice [email protected]
[email protected]


Lynne Featherstone, Minister for Equality at the Home Office
[email protected]
[email protected]


Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities

[email protected]

[email protected]

Slutwalk London has a YouTube channel! We’ve put up a trailer for an upcoming documentary about the day, and we’ll upload footage of the speeches soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

Many of the women who spoke at Slutwalk London are based in the Crossroads Women’s centre. They’re having a fundraiser evening on Friday, 24 June.

Event: Cabaret with Magic & Burlesque

Time: Doors open 7.30pm, show begins 8pm

Place: 25 Wolsey Mews, Kentish Town (off Caversham Rd), London, NW5 2DX
Tickets: £10/£5 concessions

Performers include: Colin Francome - comedy songs, juggling, magic
Mandy Davis - the Diva of Deception; Chris Hare - Mindboggler
Miss Bruise Violet - Burlesque; Freedom - magician; Lisa - Tango or Die

Access: Level access to ground floor/Wheelchair accessible loo nearby

~All Welcome~

Contact: 020 7482 2496,

Want a momento from the day? Want to continue to wave your slutwalk flag high? Make your way to where we are still selling t-shirts and a few other bits and bobs - some of our new designs are above.  We’re still short on money from organising the event (marches aren’t cheap!) and this is a great way to help us out and get something awesome.

If you want to give us more than 10% of a purchase, though, head to our paypal: We’ll be eternally grateful!

[Images of items from shop. 1. Red strap top with ‘FEMINISM: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND’ on it. 2. Front of grey long sleeved top with ‘FEMINISM: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND’ on it. 3. Back of grey long sleeved top with ‘BECAUSE WE’VE HAD ENOUGH, SLUTWALK LONDON’ logo. 4. Blue canvas bag with ‘BECAUSE WE’VE HAD ENOUGH, SLUTWALK LONDON’ logo. 5. Yellow umbrella with ‘BECAUSE WE’VE HAD ENOUGH, SLUTWALK LONDON’ logo. 6. Black ‘retro’ bag with ‘FEMINISM: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND’. 6. Red strap top with ‘NO BAD WOMEN JUST BAD LAWS’ on it. 7. Black umbrella with ‘BECAUSE WE’VE HAD ENOUGH, SLUTWALK LONDON’ logo. 8. Black neckscarf with ‘BECAUSE WE’VE HAD ENOUGH, SLUTWALK LONDON’ logo. 9. Front of blue shirt with ‘FEMINISM: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND’ on it. 10. Back of blue shirt with ‘BECAUSE WE’VE HAD ENOUGH, SLUTWALK LONDON’ logo. 11. Black messenger bag with ‘BECAUSE WE’VE HAD ENOUGH, SLUTWALK LONDON’ logo.]

At three-something-ish on Saturday afternoon, I was in Trafalgar Square, chatting to the speakers from the ECP, looking round to say hi to Laurie Penny, and generally having a good time.  As I chatted,  I realised, to my dismay, that Roz Kaveney, who had been due to provide a message of support and solidarity from the trans community, was unwell and couldn’t make it. 

That felt wrong: we, too, are abused; we, too, suffer.  And many of us (I could never claim to speak for ALL) are strong supporters of the principles of slutwalk

Five minutes later, I’d checked in with “trans central” (other trans activists who had gone on the march) who felt much the same way and not much more than five minutes after that I was up on the podium, trembling like a leaf - more with the emotion of it, to be honest, than nervous - and giving a very short message of support.

There were two things I said that I’d like to say in slightly more detail here.

First, is that we – trans women – are sisters too 

(And no: I am not discounting the violence and abuse that others in the trans community endure: gay-bashing, homophobia, transphobia all seem, at times, to merge into one amorphous mush, increasingly taking in those who would identify as “other” and gender queer.  At the end of the day, such fine distinctions make little odds to a violent assailant: and you certainly don’t much care whether you’re being hit because they think you’re gay or trans or whatever.  But when it comes to public speaking, I prefer to speak as I identify).

We suffer violence and abuse and the results of that violence can be seen in the horrendous statistics reported by the trans community.  One third of us regularly suffer harassment in public: one in ten are threatened; one in sixteen have been assaulted – sheer random violence - for no reason other than that we were out walking.

You learn many things as you transition.  In colloquial terms, many of us learn to “feminise” (whatever that means).  You also learn, very fast, about survival: about how the streets are no longer a safe place to be.  My own personal experience (and I’m a pretty boring middle-aged woman!) is of a life with zero harassment and abuse replaced by one in which I have been threatened with serious violence approximately once every two months.

You learn to be careful, in much the way that those brought up as women learn very early, too.

Its not a competition.  I was both appalled and enthralled to hear the experiences of different groups of women on Saturday.  How a single social disease – violence and disrespect for women – makes itself manifest in a range of different ways according to class, colour, sexuality, occupation – and clothes.  Some of what we endure is similar to that which other women suffer.

One quite vile practice, though, seems mostly targeted at trans women: it is the bizarre obsession that the rest of the world has with our genitals.  And whilst I am more than happy to have the rudest, most explicit conversations in the world with friends, the idea that a near-stranger thinks it appropriate to just ask – out of the blue – whether someone is pre- or post-op is revolting.  On a par, I’d guess, with asking someone on first meeting whether she has had a hysterectomy.

That said, I’ve had the verbal obsession: I’ve yet to suffer the indignity of the guys who.. . well, who decide to take matters into their own hands and CHECK genital status by just diving between a trans woman’s legs and having a feel. Ugh!

There was a second thing I said on Saturday, and this was also part apology, on behalf of blokes.  Because although I never felt especially male, I socialised, for a while, as one.  And I am well aware of how blokes often see the issue of rape and violence on the street.

Its about statistics.  Incidents.  Events that one can count and measure and compare and contrast.  Which it is.  But none of that even begins to get beneath the surface of lived experience.  Or to register that for most blokes, assault is just something that happens: a one-off that, unless they are especially belligerent or regularly seek out confrontation, will not happen all that often.

So what they don’t get – what I didn’t get before – is how different it feels when every walk down a street is accompanied, ever so slightly, by the need to measure risk: when late night walks call for double the caution; and when some places, some times are just no longer safe at all.

That, I fear, is the difference that most blokes don’t get: that violence is both state of mind and, if we are not careful, a prison.  Its not just about crime stats.

- by Jane Fae, Speaker at Slutwalk London

What a brilliant day and what a brilliant crowd you all were! It’s a shame that much of the press has forgotten totally to mention the message - you would think that they WANT to keep rape mythology alive and kicking.  

We really need YOUR help on this one.  

We need as many of you as possible to comment and lodge complaints about reporting standards and the fact that NO mention was made about the wide spectrum of speeches – actually that there were any at all!  Just this relentless reference to attire.  That is plain hackery - not journalism. The fact that many of the “writers” are women of privilege, presenting a narrow viewpoint over the needs of other women, is particularly saddening.

For the record, The Times spent over an hour at Crossroads Women’s Centre delaying an important meeting by pretending to be interested in the wider issues (which they barely touched on).

Here are a selection to read (but please be careful – I’ve nearly bust several blood-vessels reading these)

We don’t expect you to pay for the Sunday Times to read their vile piece, so see it here:

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown from The Independent

And to brighten this up, support from an unexpected quarter:

The Christian Science Monitor: A Dress is Not a Yes

These negative reporters need to be reminded that they are part of the problem. They are helping to reinforce attitudes which lead to our woeful conviction rates and in doing so are helping rapists go free.  

Write to the Sunday Times here:
[email protected]

And Yasmin Alibhai-Brown here:
[email protected]

<3 Slutidarity to you all! <3