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Hundreds gather for Singapore 'SlutWalk' protest

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Hundreds of people gathered at a park in Singapore on Sunday to protest sexual violence against women as part of the global ``SlutWalk'' movement, in a rare public demonstration in the tightly controlled city state.

The event featured live music, speeches and a women's Muay Thai martial arts exhibition at downtown Singapore's Speakers' Corner, the only public outdoor space where demonstrations are allowed in the Southeast Asian country.

Participants at the rally did not dress provocatively as some activists have in SlutWalks in U.S. and Canadian cities.

``The idea was not to vamp it up, because women can get raped regardless of what they're wearing,'' said Vanessa Ho, who organized the event with six friends. ``We're trying to raise awareness against victim-blaming and slut-shaming.''

SlutWalk marches have been held in cities around the world, including earlier this year in New Delhi and Sydney. The protests originated in Toronto, where they were sparked by a police officer's remark that women could avoid being raped by not dressing like ``sluts.''

In Toronto and later Boston, several women marched in lingerie with the word ``slut'' painted on their bodies.

Singapore has strict controls on public speech, and outdoor demonstrations are rare. The wealthy island state of 5.1 million people also has one of the world's lowest violent crime rates.

Corinna Lim, executive director of the Singapore women's rights group Aware, said many sexual assault cases go unreported, especially date rape. Aware recently started a hotline for sexual abuse victims and offers to accompany women to the police and the hospital after an assault.

``The family of the victim will sometimes say, 'What were you wearing?''' Lim said. ``Singapore women have modernized quite quickly in a short time, but Singapore is still a very conservative society.''

Lim praised last month's decision by authorities in Singapore to abolish a law that allowed a woman's sexual history to be examined during a rape trial.

Women account for about half of the country's university graduates and hold a few high-profile positions in the business community, including Chua Sock Koong, chief executive of Southeast Asia's largest phone company, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. However, men dominate the leadership of the People's Action Party, which has ruled Singapore since 1959.

``The world is dominated by males, so there's a male mentality,'' said Esaint Chiang, a 21-year-old student who attended Sunday's protest. ``I think it's a good idea to bring awareness to these issues, but I like that they're not being so provocative, playing by the rules and not pissing off the authorities too much.''

Ho, 24, said she lives with her parents but did not tell them she was organizing SlutWalk because of their conservative values.

``My parents are averse to anything that tries to poke at the system or shake the status quo,'' said Ho, who has a master's degree in gender studies from University College London. ``But this cause is worth it to me.''



<한글 기사>

집회 드문 싱가포르에 여성시위대 모인 까닭은?

수백 명 참가..미국ㆍ캐나다 시위 때 같은 야한 복장 없어

집회의 자유가 엄격히 제한된 싱가포르에서 4일(현지시간) 수백 명이 참석한 가운데 여성의 야한 복장이 성범죄의 원인이 아니라는 뜻을 전달하는 세계적인 움직임인 `슬럿워크(Slut Walk)' 시위가 열렸다.

시위는 싱가포르에서 시위가 허가된 유일한 공개 장소인 `발언자 코너' 공원에서 개최됐으며 노래, 연설, 격투기의 일종인 무에타이 시범 등으로 진행됐다.

일부 참가자는 성폭행 피해자를 이들의 복장이나 음주 때문으로 비난하는 데 반 대하는 문구를 쓴 티셔츠를 입었으며 앞서 미국, 캐나다 등에서 열렸던 슬럿워크의 참가자들과 같은 야한 의상을 입은 참가자는 없었다.

시위 계획자 중 한 명인 바네사 호(24)는 여성은 "복장에 상관없이" 성폭행의 희생자가 될 수 있다며 "우리는 (성범죄) 피해자와 성적으로 자유분방한 여성을 비난하는 풍조에 비판적인 여론을 환기하려 한다"고 설명했다.

대중 연설이 엄격히 제한되고 옥외 집회가 드문 싱가포르에서 이번 시위는 이례적 사례로 경찰은 슬럿워크가 국제적 움직임이라는 점과 외국인의 참여가 있을 것을 고려해 이를 허가했다고 밝혔다.

슬럿워크는 지난 4월 캐나다에서 한 경찰이 '여성이 성폭행을 당하지 않으려면 야한 옷차림을 하지 말아야 한다'는 요지의 발언을 한 데서 촉발돼 서울을 비롯해 토론토, 워싱턴, 파리, 뉴델리 등 세계 수십 개 도시에서 열렸다.


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