Hundreds of UCD students are set to come together to take a stand against sexual harassment on Irish streets later today, with acclaimed Irish author Louise O’Neill expected to lead the demonstration.
UCD’s first ever Slutwalk, which was organised by the college’s students union and the college’s Ents office, will see students march across campus wearing “whatever makes them feel good” to promote the message that, “consent can never be implied or assumed from a person's clothing.”
The event aims to tackle the, “misguided belief that clothes are an invitation addressed to you for sex or sexual comment.”
"My clothes are not my consent is our slogan for this slutwalk. Clothes aren't an invitation addressed to you for sex or for sexual comments. Too many young people in Ireland are being verbally harassed on Irish streets— whether they're on the way to Diceys or Prhomo— and the problem is this idea of invitation, this idea of "asking for it”.
"Unless I ask you to have sex, I'm not asking for it and I've a right to go about my day or my night without being harassed because of your misguided notions of consent. There's a lot of work to be done on these misguided notions in relation to sexual consent in this country,” UCDSU Vice President Hazel Beattie said.
In a statement ahead of the demonstration, the union called on students to march “loud and proud” in solidarity with the rising number of people experiencing sexual harassment on Irish streets.
“March in solidarity with anyone who's had the word "slut" thrown at them from across the street whilst walking home, with anyone who's been made feel unsafe or ashamed by shouted insults.
Support each other in a massive stride of pride across campus and celebrate your freedom to dress in whatever way makes you feel happy without getting abused for it,” the union said.
Ms.O’Neill, who received wide-spread praise following the release of her book ‘Asking For It’, also said she was “looking forward” to the event, which comes as part of the UCDSU’s #NotAskingForIt campaign.
Speaking about the novel, which tackles the issue of sexual consent, she told TheJournal.ie that she wanted readers to finish the novel “absolutely furious” at the treatment of lead character and assault victim Emma.
“I wanted the reader to finish this book and be absolutely furious.
"Furious about what happened to Emma, furious about our low rate of rape conviction, furious at the fact the victim is blamed. That rage is the only way change is going to be enacted,” she commented.
UCD Student Sorcha Murphy regularly experiences sexual harassment and said that it “just has to stop.”
“This is so important and I can't wait for it. I deal with sexual harassment almost weekly because of what I wear and it just has to stop,” she commented.
Eleanor Blundell added that she “was debating whether to go to this or not but after getting cat called on the way home from college I'm definitely going.”
Student union President Marcus O’Halloran and Vice President Hazel Beattie will attend the demonstration alongside representatives from the National Women's Council of Ireland, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Rape Crisis Network Ireland.
The event will take place tomorrow at 1pm in UCD, with participants being invited to gather in the college’s student centre before the march officially commences.