Rally aims to challenge attitudes to rape

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A rally will be held in the centre of Derry tomorrow in response to the recent rise in alleged sex attacks in the city.

The rally, which gets underway at 1pm in Guildhall Square, has been organised by a range of women’s groups and follows a number of recent attacks in Derry - including the alleged rape of a young woman in the Shipquay Street area last Saturday morning.

A spokeswoman for the organisers says it is vital as many women’s groups, as well as the Derry public, attend the event.

“We believe we need to question why such attacks are taking place, and acknowledge that we only hear about a very small percentage of acts of sexual violence including rape,” the spokeswoman says.

“We are angered by the silence and scant regard given to this crime within our society and to the dangerous culture of making rape prevention the responsibility of women.

“Rape and sexual violence are a violation of fundamental human rights and need to be widely challenged as a social and political issue, not as mere incidents expected to be resolved by the police and the courts.”

The spokeswoman says victims require very specific types of support at individual, community and societal level.

“We need to challenge those elements of our society’s culture which have led to the acceptance that rape is something that ‘just happens’.

“Saturday’s action is part of a longer term grassroots conversation in the north west to challenge the existing culture around rape and to ensure that rape victims ultimately get the supports they need, when and where they need them,” she added.