Sophomore Inspired to Give Survivors of Sexual Violence a Forum

Published: Sep 26, 2011
Charli Solis ’14 helped organize SlutWalk Tampa, an event designed to raise awareness about sexual violence and the stereotypes of women who are assaulted. Photo courtesy of Jesse Nobles Photography
Charli Solis ’14 helped organize SlutWalk Tampa, an event designed to raise awareness about sexual violence and the stereotypes of women who are assaulted. Photo courtesy of Jesse Nobles Photography
More than 500 supporters gathered in downtown Tampa for the Sept. 17 walk. Photo courtesy of Jesse Nobles Photography
More than 500 supporters gathered in downtown Tampa for the Sept. 17 walk. Photo courtesy of Jesse Nobles Photography
Charli Solis ’14 is still getting emails from people praising SlutWalk Tampa, an event designed to raise awareness about sexual violence and the stereotypes of women who are assaulted.

More than 500 supporters gathered in downtown Tampa for the Sept. 17 walk. Like other SlutWalks, the event featured provocative outfits — some participants wore just bras on top with the words “This is not an invitation” written on their backs, while others dressed in traditional Muslim burqas.

“We told people to come in whatever makes them feel empowered,” said Solis, who organized the Tampa walk with two others she met on Facebook while promoting the event, University of South Florida student Jackie Horwich and youth pastor Greg Stevens.

SlutWalks are now an international event, having begun in January after a Canadian police officer was quoted in a newspaper talking about campus safety by saying that women who dress like sluts invite sexual violence. Solis read the story and blogged about it.

The Toronto SlutWalk sprung up in response to the officer’s remarks, and sister events have spread globally. Solis, who is majoring in communication, this summer decided to organize the Tampa walk. She was surprised by the turnout and touched by the more than 30 survivors who gave their testimonies in the Survivor’s Speak-out, some sharing their story for the first time.

“I’m still hearing from people who said they feel like a great weight has been lifted off their shoulders,” said Solis, 25. “The event gave them a safe place to have a voice.”

Solis, who works as a graphic artist, wants to keep the conversation going. She is working to get nonprofit status for SlutWalk Tampa and has organized a discussion group which will meet Nov. 3 at Sacred Grounds Coffee House in Temple Terrace.

“The issues of sexual violence and their effects on college campuses are not new issues, but the SlutWalk provides a forum for people to start talking,” said Solis. “My favorite thing about this event is that it meant a million different things to everyone. Everyone was able to find their voice in it.”

To get involved and to see photos of SlutWalk Tampa, check out the group's Facebook page and website

“You don’t have to be a die-hard feminist to want to make a difference,” Solis said.

 
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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