07/04/2011 10:51 am ET Updated Sep 02, 2011

SlutWalk Event In Civic Park To Refocus Conversation About Rape (PHOTOS)

A new empowerment group called "SlutWalk" is making its way all over the world faster than some can raise their eyebrows.

It began on January 24, 2011 in Toronto when a representative of the police force gave a campus safety presentation at Osgoode Hall Law School, York Univeristy that included a so-called tip for women to avoid sexual assault: don't dress like sluts.

Society teaches 'Don't get raped' not, 'Don't rape'
Approximately 300 people came out to Civic Center park with their provocative wear and signs to protest a social environment which they say places the blame on the victim rather than the perpetrator.

Emerald Green, 23, Felicia Sheumaker, 24, and Bethany Feret, 24, decided to organize SlutWalk Denver after seeing the event take off in other cities.

Toronto held the world's first "SlutWalk" on April 3 and drew approximately 1,000 people. More than 3,500 signed up to participate in Trafalgar Square, London while another few thousand marched in Boston and hundreds took part in Chicago.

"I heard about it through Facebook and we were hoping it would come to Denver," Green told HuffPost. "Then we realized that we were the ones who had to make it happen."

Green and Feret, who met at the University of Northern Colorado, both told the crowd they'd both survived a sexual assault.

"Regardless of what you wear, how much alcohol you drink, whether you like sex, are walking alone or pass out, rape is never the victim's fault," Bethany Feret, 24, said. "We have a right to wear what we want, drink alcohol, like sex or not, walk alone and pass out. No one has the right to rape."

Rapists Cause Rape
Ryan Layer, 23, loves the idea of a SlutWalk.

"It's kind of the same with movies or with videogames, you have to give it an interesting name," Layer said.

Jared Pittinger, 16, came to SlutWalk with his friend Bailey Baxter, 19, wearing knee-high silver shoes and a black-netted shirt. Pittinger said he saw the event on Facebook and wanted to join in part because he knows someone who has been sexually assaulted.

Mallory Lewis is a volunteer victim's advocate and brought her dad and sister to SlutWalk.

"In terms of any victim blaming, it's a prehistoric notion and needs to be changed," Lewis said.

According to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assualt, 1 in 4 women in Colorado and 1 in 17 men will have experienced an attempted or fulfilled sexual assault in their lifetime. This is higher than the national average of 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men.

Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as a friend or acquaintance.

All photos by Veronica Rael.

Colorado Rape Assistance and Awareness Program (RAAP) 24 hour rape crisis hotline:
303.322.7273 (English)
303.329.0031 (Spanish)