Slutwalks: Part of the solution or part of the problem?

A panel discussion at the Feminist Legal Analysis Section of the Ontario Bar Association, in Toronto, Nov. 3, 2011. Panelists: Sonya Barnett, co-founder of SlutWalks, Prof. Brenda Cossman, University of Toronto, Karin Galldin, Ottawa lawyer with a feminist practice; Moderator - lawyer Shelley Quinn.

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  1. The original "SlutWalk" came in reaction to comments by Toronto Police Const. Michael Sanguinetti, who told women at a Jan. 24 safety forum at York University's Osgoode Law School that women could avoid being raped if they stopped "dressing likes sluts." Sanguinetti later issued a written apology that said “Violent crimes such as sexual assaults can have a traumatizing effect on their victims. . . . My comment was hurtful in this respect. I am embarrassed by the comment I made and it shall not be repeated. I apologize for any ill feelings my comment may have caused,” according to an email reported in the Toronto Star newspaper on Feb. 18. 
  2. On April 3, the first SlutWalk brought men, women and children – media reported about 1,000 in total – to the streets in a march from Queen's Park, site of the Ontario Legislature, to Toronto Police headquarters. Signs included "I was wearing pants and a sweater. Was it my fault too?" "Slut Pride," "Because we've had enough" and "Sorry, but I wasn't just asking for it."
  3. The movement, promoted on Facebook and through Twitter, went viral and co-founder Sonya Barnett says that seven months later, there have been at least 150 SlutWalks in cities around the globe.
  4. U of T law Prof. Brenda Cossman positions the SlutWalks within the framework of the "sex wars" between "second wave" and "third wave" feminists.
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