Firstly I would like to acknowledge all those people who couldn’t be here today because by virtue of their job,trans identity, class or colour they live under the label slut on a daily basis. For some people slut is not just applied to their behaviour but who they are. By being on this march I do not want to give permission to any bastard to use the word more freely against those who aren’t as respectable, old or white as me. I want all of us to be free.
You all look gorgeous. As you can see I’m in my sexiest gear today, because there’s nothing sexier than a Green Party T-shirt.
As friends family and survivors of sexual and gender based violence we are taking our power today to say it’s not for us to hold the pain, It’s not for us to feel the shame and it’s not for us to change.
By standing here we are saying the pain and shame belongs to those who abuse and it’s their job to change.
I’m here because I believe we all have the right to be safe and I believe the best way to stop sexual abuse is for abusers to stop abusing.
A 2007 international study found 1 in 4 girls in this country are sexually abused before the age of 15. This was the highest rate of any country surveyed. Our rates of Domestic Violence are similarly awful and the police estimate that less than 20% of cases are reported. This is a crisis. We’re under attack and we’re being told it’s our own fault.
I’ve spent many years working with refuge and in sexual abuse support and prevention and I know that the rates of abuse in this country are not a result of what we’re wearing, or what or even how we’re drinking.
By far the majority of abuse happens in the home. Abusers most tragically are not often men in balaclavas or strangers out on the town late at night. All too often they’re our family and friends.
While this march was started in response to a comment by a police officer in Canada there have been many more examples recently much closer to home that have effectively been saying the same thing.
Kathryn Ryan on National Radio last week asked – Is the real offender Alcohol? And why are young women just not getting the message. National Party MP Paul Quin said “there is a real issue with young ladies getting drunk” during a debate on rape, and ALAC felt it was ok to run TV campaign showing a young drunk woman about to be raped with the message it’s how we’re drinking. I say it’s not how we’re drinking it’s how they’re raping.
To focus on the behaviour, clothing, or drinking of victims is like blaming the gender pay gap on periods.
If we’re going to reduce or stop sexual abuse we need name it properly and keep the focus on the abuse not the victims. After all abusers are in the best position to stop it.
I’m thinking today of a old friend who I admire a lot who was once brave enough to quite publically go up to the man who had raped her and put her hand on his chest and said take this – it’s my pain from you raping me and it belongs to you.
For me this march is our collective opportunity to say take this pain, and take this shame. It is not ours.
We all need to keep challenging the idea that it’s our fault that it’s the fault of the victim and we need to work towards better laws and programmes and education so abusers realise they can’t get away with it any more.
That’s why I’m proud to join you all here today as a Green Party Candidate to say enough is enough.