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Students March for a Community Without Sexual violence

‘Let Me Go Home’ – Students March for a Community Without Sexual Violence

Trigger Warning: This content deals with sexual assualt and may be triggering to some people

Today over 300 students from Victoria University of Wellington and other community members will march from Kelburn campus to Aro Valley in response to recent attacks on pathways around the campus.

The event is being organized by the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA), VUWSA Women’s Group and the Victoria branch of Youth for UN Women.

“’Let Me Go Home’ cuts right to the heart of the issue – it is not good enough that we live in a society where the fear of sexual assault limits the ability of people to walk home without fear. This aims to be a positive event that will turn frustration into community action,” says President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association, Sonya Clark.

“The event will highlight how attitudes and behaviours about sexual violence need to change - the key message is that rape and sexual violence are not tolerated in our community. As students, we want to see a societal change where rape and sexual violence are not just ‘the way things are.”

“Currently there is a narrative around assaults that implies that a women shouldn’t have been walking alone at night. Telling poor students to catch a taxi home is simply not good enough. As a community we need to be addressing the core of these issues.”

President of the VUWSA Women’s Group, Chrissy Brown, says that “as students and Wellington residents, we want to show that we are a community that does not accept sexual assault as a given and that we will foster a community that rejects rape culture.”

Spokesperson for Youth for UN Women, Heather Walker said: “This forum is a great start, and we hope the momentum continues from today. There are still many gains to be made in both raising awareness about these issues and taking positive steps to creating a community where everyone feels safe at all times.

Although led by students, the organisers hope that the wider community gets involved. “Changing culture requires a whole community approach,” says Clark.

There will be a forum after the march, where people can collaborate in small groups to come up with proactive steps towards rejecting rape culture. Wellington City Councillors, MPs, Police, and University staff will be invited to respond at the end.

Clark reinforces her earlier calls “that while the physical environment does not cause rape, infrastructural improvements are a crucial part of making people feel safer in their communities.”

“The response so far shows that this is an issue that students are concerned about and more action is needed.”

March departs at 5pm, today, Tuesday 20th May, from outside the Hub, Kelburn Campus and heads to Aro Valley Community Centre, with speeches and discussion from 5.30pm. The facebook event is https://www.facebook.com/events/713033215420414/?ref=3&ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

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