Washington: Hundreds of women swapped dress suits for hotpants and revealing tops on Saturday as Washington became the latest global city to host a SlutWalk calling for an end to sexual violence and victim blaming.
A crowd made up mainly of women, which organisers estimated at around 2,000-strong gathered opposite the White House, holding up homemade signs with messages reading everything from "This is what I was wearing when I was raped" to "Rape predates the miniskirt”.
On the stroller behind 23-month-old Virginia Warder, a sign read "My body is mine."
The toddler, dressed in a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "My mommy is a slut”, played with a pink feather boa and ate peaches as women and men in various states of dress readied for the one-mile (1.6-kilometer) march to the Washington Monument on the grassy esplanade known as the National Mall.
Virginia`s mother Theresia said she was doubly victimised when she was sexually assaulted as a teenager because "people said it was my fault”.
"I would never want her to be blamed if she were sexually assaulted," she said.
"This SlutWalk and all the others are about women saying to men that we can`t prevent our own sexual assault by dressing one way or another; only the people who assault us can prevent it."
Samantha Wright organised Washington`s SlutWalk to highlight how "blaming the victim only serves to silence them and perpetuates sexual violence”.
"Victims of sexual violence are put in a really tough spot because we`re told to report these things but when we do, we`re told it`s our fault," she added.
"This perpetuates the cycle of violence because the perpetrator feels their actions are justified. So they continue to commit violence and the victims continue to remain silent."
The SlutWalk phenomenon began in Toronto in April when hundreds of women and men took to the Canadian city`s streets for a march to protest a police constable`s comment that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”.
Since then, SlutWalks have been held in dozens of cities around the world, including Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand, New Delhi, Philadelphia, Seoul and Sydney.
Costa Rica is due to hold a march on Sunday outside the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Jose to protest a call by senior Catholic clerics for women to dress "modestly" in order to avoid being "dehumanised" and "objectified”.