SlutWalk South Florida Hitting the Streets in Early 2012

The SlutWalk movement is finally coming to South Florida.

SlutWalk South Florida has started to develop its online presence, hand out fliers, and begin planning demonstrations to curb sexual assaults and the blame sometimes associated with sexual-assault victims.

There's no precise date set for South Florida's first SlutWalk, but organizers say they're going to hit the streets in early 2012, around a year after the movement started, based on comments made by a Toronto police constable, who said, "Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

That's obviously not how sexual assaults happen, although it's still a somewhat common thought -- and the SlutWalk movement wants to end that.

Right now, the group is being co-organized by two women who hope to have simultaneous SlutWalks in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties.

"This is not something to be swept under the rug," says Jessica Levinson, one of the group's organizers. "At its very core, sexual violence is abhorrent, and the silence needs to end. I am very pleased to be able to lend my voice to this cause."

Their launch of the group yesterday also coincided with what police believe is the fifth attack by a Palm Beach County serial rapist. They spent part of the day handing out around 500 fliers with their contact information and the Freda Adler quote, "Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused."

It looks like the call from former New Times writer Michael J. Mooney has been answered.

On the group's website, it dug up some 2010 statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on sexual assaults in South Florida -- part of the 9,885 forcible sex offenses committed statewide that year:

  • In Broward County, there were 724 forcible sex offenses, 405 of which were forcible rape.
  • In Miami Dade County, there were 1,109 forcible sex offenses, 508 of which were forcible rape.
  • In Palm Beach County, there were 600 forcible sex offenses, 322 of which were forcible rape.

Here's the email we just received from event co-organizers Jessica Levinson and Lindsey Hansen:

Well, as of right now, we're still in the early planning stages, but we're aiming to hold the walk in February of 2012 in three locations -- one in each of the South Florida counties. The locations are yet to be determined, as we still need to hammer out the details regarding permitting and foot traffic and such, but we're looking to hold them in very public places, examples of our "dream" locations being on Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach, on Las Olas in Ft. Lauderdale, and on South Beach, possibly on Washington and/or Lincoln.

As for why we're starting this up now, well, the climate just seems right. Everywhere you look, you hear about people rallying for some cause they believe in, be it the overwhelming response to Occupy Wall Street and its satellite support protests or the recent SlutWalk in NYC that saw something like participants in the thousands. People have a lot to say and we think they just need somewhere to channel their voices. For us, SlutWalk was a very obvious choice to throw our passion into. We both have, in some way or another, been impacted by sexual violence, and it's so prevalent, especially in South Florida. But, oddly, it seems to be one of those things that never gets talked about, both personally and in the media. It's the "dirty little secret" of crime. Most rapes never get reported -- to families, friends, or the authorities -- be it because the victims are afraid to come forward or because they blame themselves or because they feel they won't get the help they need. And that's what we want to stop. We want this talked about. We want people to know that the victims are never to blame. We want rapists to know they will be held accountable.

For more information on the group, click here for the website, here for Facebook, and here for Twitter.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley