QUITO – Several hundred people gathered in Quito to take part in the fourth annual ‘Marcha de las Putas’ on Saturday, part of the growing trans-national network of ‘Slutwalk’ marches to protest sexual and domestic violence towards women.
With an infectious rhythm of beating drums and the shrieks of loud whistles as a non-stop soundtrack, marchers chanted slogans demanding sexual and reproductive freedom and an end to rape culture as they set out on the two-hour march from the Parque El Ejido, a few kilometers north of the city’s historical center district. Night descended by the time the parade route reached its end at the Plaza Foch entertainment district.
One of the goals of the demonstration was to loudly denounce slut-shaming, victim-blaming and gender violence, which, organizers claim, is becoming less invisible thanks largely to awareness-raising actions such as the annual Slutwalks.
Another objective, said coordinator Ana Almeida prior to the march, was to challenge society into accepting responsibility for sexual violence, harassment and violence against women in general.
Indeed, the prevailing theme was one of women, tired of intolerance, male chauvinism and machismo, demanding respect and control over their own bodies. The mood was energetic, colorful, festive and confident.
While the majority of participants were women, men made up a substantial portion of the crowd, which also included families with young children, tourists and members of the LGBTI community from throughout Ecuador.
There was a sizable police presence whose role was limited to traffic control, with one notable exception.
A heavy metal guitarist, who La Hora identified as Juan David Benitez, stripped down to his socks for a three song set under the shadow cast by a statue called ‘La Lucha Eterna’, or ‘The Eternal Struggle’.
Two policemen approached and asked him to put his pants on, requests that went ignored. The standoff, accompanied by a growing crowd’s calls for encore after encore, ended in a surreal scene a few minutes later when Benitez found himself surround by nearly a dozen helmeted officers dressed in full riot gear who didn’t back off until they watched him put his pants back on.
The Slutwalk idea was found in Toronto in 2011 as a reaction to a local police officer’s suggestion that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” as a precaution against sexual assault. The concept has since spread to dozens of countries where events are organized annually.
A few more images are below; forty-six in all are on my blog. NOTE: Some of those are probably NSFW.
All images © Bob Ramsak 2015. All rights reserved. For editorial use, please check out the images I filed for Demotix / Corbis. Enjoy!