Slutwalk in Reykjavik today

The Slutwalk has been held in Reykjavík for six years, and this year the march is happening today, leaving from Hallgrímskirkja church at 2pm. The march has been well received in Icelandic society and an array of people march in support, the notion has stirred up much needed discourse in Icelandic society. The Slutwalk is called Druslugangan in Icelandic, it’s a transnational movement of protest marches calling for an end to rape culture. There has been an increasing outcry by public in Iceland to address and deal with rape culture that is considered rampant in Icelandic society.

There is much converse in Icelandic media today as the biggest travel and outdoor festival is happening on the first week in August, its called Verslunnarmannahelgi and is the equivalent of Bank holiday or Labour day. Unfortunately trough time it has come to be all but excepted as an annual source of rape and sexual harassment in Icelandic existence, almost taken for granted in the culture, but the outcry to change this attitude has been loud in the last few years and the Slutwalk is a part of that outcry.

Specifically, participants protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance or location or anything that might suggest that the woman is to blame, instead of the offender. The first Slutwalk was held in Iceland in June 2011 but the rallies began in April 2011, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after a Toronto Police officer suggested that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” as a precaution against sexual assault. Subsequent rallies have occurred globally.

The protest takes the form of a march, mainly by young women, where some dress as “sluts” in revealing, sexy attire such as short skirts, stockings and scanty tops. In the various Slutwalks around the world, there are usually speaker meetings and workshops, live music, sign-making sessions, leafleting, open microphones, chanting, dances, martial arts, and receptions or after-parties with refreshments, and this is also the case in Iceland, although notably the march in Iceland is varied as young and old, men, women and children participate, as is the case in the gay pride march. In many of the rallies and online, women speak publicly for the first time about their identity as rape survivors. There has been a wave of women speaking about their experience of sexual assault in Iceland and now men are joining in under the title of “Men talk”, pointing out that men are also raped – where men come out and share their experience of sexual assault, in a joint effort to oppose the silence and victim shame that sexual assault crime has traditionally been shrouded in.