|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
They may have been given a police permit, but Singapore’s SlutWalk organisers are now fighting to not have to use it. Their reason: it’s unnecessary for their event and they don’t want to set a precedent for future events.
“No one (who has organised similar events in the past) has had to apply for a police permit before, and we feel it’s important to not set a precedent for other events in the future to do this as well,” one of the organizers Cher Tan, 24, told Yahoo! Singapore on Tuesday evening.
The freelance graphic designer is one of seven women aged between 21 and 55 who came together to advance the SlutWalk cause in Singapore.
The event, which will be held on Sunday at Hong Lim Park, seeks to raise awareness about sexual assault, victim-blaming and slut-shaming. With its beginnings in Toronto, Canada, it has been held in numerous countries over this year, including Peru, South Africa, South Korea, India and Indonesia.
Explaining the situation, Tan said that the group had been given approval by NParks in August to hold their event at Hong Lim Park and under the terms and conditions, they need not apply for a police permit.
On 8 November, however, the organisers were told by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) that they needed a separate permit. Unaware of the exemption clause, one of the group's members then went ahead to apply for the permit.
When organisers sought clarification from the SPF, the SPF said that the presence of foreigners would require a police permit, according to Tan, who showed the correspondence between SPF and the organisers.
Organisers then reiterated in their response that their version of SlutWalk will not be conducted as a protest or demonstration.
Sunday’s event will be “carnival-style” with performances, speeches and informational booths, without protests or formations, unlike those done in events such as Pink Dot, explained Tan.
“How do you define ‘participation’ (by foreigners in the event) in this respect? The definition of the term in the Public Order Act doesn’t refer to (them) being bystanders,” she argued, adding that organisers remain puzzled over the need for a permit.
When the event draws closer, Tan said organisers will remind participants that SlutWalk Singapore is meant to be a gathering and not a protest or demonstration.
“We have already in all our publicity materials stated very clearly that it’s a gathering, so I believe the attendees will adhere,” she said.
Tan also told Yahoo! Singapore that organisers, on Monday, wrote to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean, Law Minister K Shanmugam and the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sports to seek help in waiving the need for a permit. They have yet to hear from any of them.
If there is no resolution to the matter, Tan said organisers will have to accept the police permit and proceed so that the event carries on as planned.
SlutWalk Singapore will be held this Sunday at the Speakers’ Corner of Hong Lim Park, alongside SlutWalk events happening in Hong Kong, Bangalore and Mumbai. Click here for more information, or visit their website at http://slutwalksg.com.