By Cassie Ordonio
In the 11th Annual San Francisco Walk Against Rape (SFWAR), City College’s Project SURVIVE paraded through the Mission District to raise awareness of sexual violence and to encourage survivors to speak up. Project SURVIVE has participated in the event every year.
Each year, SFWAR hosts a friendly competition between community teams to raise funds, and Project SURVIVE has placed first for two years in a row. This year, City College raised over $2,000 but placed only fifth.in a competition that raised a total of $48,414.
“In general, we’re developing greater awareness on sexual assault particularly on college campuses,” Women’s Studies Chair Maggie Harrison said. “Project SURVIVE has been on the forefront of that. We have one of the strongest programs for sexual violence prevention in the state.”
Women and men gathered outside the Women’s Building, a safe haven for women located on 18th Street with multi-colored signs and balloons that read “It’s my body and my space.”
A ceremony was performed by women Aztec dancers at the beginning of the march. When the dancers dispersed, the smoke from the burning sage wafted through the air as the women and men began to walk. A spectator remarked “(how) beautiful is it to have our sisters bless the ceremony.”
“One, two, three, four, we won’t take this anymore,” chanted approximately 500 participants down 18th then turned on Castro Street. Cheers erupted from people in restaurants and from windows.
“I feel more empowered and educated going into this walk,” Mica Scofield, a mental health student said. She’s been involved in the walk since she was 17 years old.
Cars honked in support of the walk, and as the honking became louder, the cheers grew stronger.
“It was beautiful, and I feel powerful with the community. There’s a lot of people that went through the same thing I did.”
— Marcela Guimarães
As the marchers turned on Castro Street the chants transitioned. “People in the window; walk against rape—people on the sidewalk; walk against rape,— people in their cars; walk against rape.”
Just like the merging chants, people on the sidewalks joined the walk. Some people who recorded the event on cell phones also began chanting. Others, poked their head outside their homes in multi-story buildings to check out the commotion.
“I think it’s impressive how organized people are to get out here,” Blake Respini said. “People are making their voices heard.”
Another bystander was particularly interested in the message of the walk conveyed.
The walkers then switched chants.“Yes means yes—no means no—whatever we wear—wherever we go.”
Though there were many supporters from the Castro neighborhood, support devolved to taunts a few minutes later as participant marched down 16th Street. A couple of female marchers were scanned from head-to-toe by two men who were behind a fence while they made catcalling whistles.
A couple women in the walk shouted: “Do not whistle at us!”
The three and a half mile walk ended at the Potrero del Sol Park where dancers, poets and speakers educated women on sexual violence.
“It was better than I expected,” Marcela Guimarães, a psychology student said. “It was beautiful, and I feel powerful with the community. There’s a lot of people that went through the same thing I did.”
Statistics show that one in four women and one in 11 men will be raped in their lifetimes, according to SFWAR. Less than 20 percent of rapes are ever reported to the police.
One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, and more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report to the police, the National Violence Resource Center reported.
On Sept. 28, 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown passed the “Yes Means Yes” law which requires college campuses to provide resources and education on sexual violence.
Founded approximately 20 years ago, Project SURVIVE has educated City College students on healthy relationships and resources on and off campus. They provided upwards of 350 workshops per year.
The California Board of Governors awarded Project SURVIVE with an honorable mention for excellence in programming.
“I’m really proud of Project SURVIVE in general. We got this very strong sexual violence prevention program and promoting healthy relationships,” Harrison said. “Everyone should be free of sexual violence.”
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