Home Kent News Teen ‘overwhelmed’ by sexual assault reports organises march against it

Teen ‘overwhelmed’ by sexual assault reports organises march against it

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Original article from Kent Live

A young woman from Canterbury has organised a march against sexual assault and harassment after being "overwhelmed" with reports.

Sophie Hartop, 19, is hoping a 200-strong crowd made up of friends, family and survivors will join the city centre demonstration later this month.

She has single-handedly put together the event which will see those in attendance march their way from one end of the city to the other.

Read more: R rate in Kent rises to as high as 1.4 amid doubts over June 21 'freedom day'

Starting at Westgate Towers, a procession will make its way through Canterbury's busy streets before arriving at Dane John Gardens.

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The event was born after the 19-year-old noticed an influx of messages to her Instagram page, which allows survivors of sexual abuse and harassment to tell their story and promotes local support groups.

Sophie says the march, which will take place on June 26 at 12pm, will bring people together in the centre of the city, where she claims sexual harassment incidents are rife.

She told KentLive: "I organised the march because I've been getting lots of reports on the page that I run.

Sophie Hartop decided to organise the Canterbury march after hearing several concerning reports of assault

"During lockdown incidents of domestic violence, sexual abuse and child grooming have all gone up because it's all happening behind closed doors.

"I thought it'd be nice to create a space for people who may have been suffering through lockdown and could come to the march.

"Also sexual harassment hasn't really been tackled that much recently in Canterbury, so I wanted to shed light on it.

"[The march] will bring everyone together and it's in the centre of the city where a lot of sexual harassment happens.

"And also just where the most people are – including a lot of young people and targeted teenage girls."

Those marching at the Canterbury event will make their way from Westgate Tower at 12pm to Dane John Gardens on June 26

Sophie believes more can be done to help support victims of sexual assault and harassment.

"I find it a bit overwhelming to be honest," she said.

"With the amount of reports I get, because obviously I've got my own life and time, it can be quite stressful.

"I don't know if it's just because of the audience I have but a lot of the reports I get are from teenage girls about sexual harassment from older middle-aged white men."

As well as running the page, Sophie has organised a number of support groups and walks for victims.

She added: "I also allow people to post their story anonymously [on the page].

"I think just being able to write your story down and share it anonymously is actually quite healing and it allows you to accept it more."

According to the organiser the march will practice social distancing and will encourage face masks to be worn throughout the event.

It was originally scheduled for May 22, but it had to be pushed back due to safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Original Article