Socialist Worker

Cop: ‘Don’t dress like a slut and you won’t get raped’

A student at York University in Toronto, Canada, spoke to Socialist Worker about the incident that has led to the emergence of the new protest movement

Issue No. 2252

‘The police were invited to give a talk on personal safety at the university’s Osgoode Hall Law School after several incidents. There was supposed to be a male and a female officer—but only two men appeared.

One of the officers—Michael Sanguinetti—commented during the talk, “I know I am not supposed to say this, but if you really want to know how not to get raped don’t dress like a slut.”

Everyone in the room was taken aback. The law school made a formal complaint to the police. As this was being processed wider numbers of students and activists got wind of what had happened.

Victims and survivors of sexual assault go to the police to seek justice. So they were shocked to hear that a police officer said that what a woman wears will decide whether or not she gets raped.

We are in the middle of winter—women are wrapped up but still get raped. Women can wear a full niqab and be raped. Men can get raped.

People know the judicial system doesn’t support women.

There is a lack of trust when it comes to the police—and not just because of this incident. For years women have been blamed for the attacks they have suffered. This incident exposed how comfortable the police feel at expressing it.

There is a history of sexual assaults and a culture of misogyny on campus.

After pressure from students, there was a management audit on campus safety. The report, that came out last year, showed that more than a third of students felt “unsafe” or “very unsafe” on campus.

This is an issue that will not go away. But I have a problem with the term “SlutWalk”. It didn’t come from the students. Using the word slut is not empowering. We don’t need to own that word to take control of our own bodies.

But stressing the fact that women are not to blame for rape is the most important issue.’

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