Annual walk brings awareness to sexual assault, gender violence issues
Since 2007, more than 1,000 people have participated in the University of Missouri-Kansas City Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event, and those numbers continue to grow each year.
On Thursday evening, more than 80 people, mostly men, participated in the annual walk to raise awareness of women’s experiences with sexual assault and gender violence. By putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, the men showed solidarity for women’s issues. The walk also raised funds for the UMKC Women’s Center and Violence Prevention and Response Program.
“Violence prevention is not just the work of one individual or of one entity alone, but of a community of citizens coming together to advocate for those affected by gender-based violence, sexual assault, and the rape of women and girls,” said UMKC Interim Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer. “As an urban-serving university, community support and involvement is essential to carrying out the work of the Women’s Center, and to enriching the lives of students, faculty, staff, and community members.”
Before walkers took to the sidewalks, Bichelmeyer encouraged reflection. “As you walk, I encourage each of you to think about what we can do as individuals to improve our campus and our community.”
Mike Medis from the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, also known as MOCSA, presented a few statistics to help with that reflection.
“It’s hard for me to fathom, but every 98 seconds someone is being sexually assaulted,” Medis said. “As men, we’re not going to be a bystander anymore. When we see something happening, we as men need to stand up. It’s on us to stop it. It’s not just a women’s issue, it’s a men’s issue too.”
Men who completed the walk echoed Medis’s words.
“I’m here to support women,” said Jose Carlos, freshman and member of the UMKC men’s soccer team. “It’s not just their problem.”
Henry Ramirez, junior and UMKC soccer player, agreed with Carlos. “We both have sisters and mothers.” They want the women in their lives to feel safe and supported. Participating in the walk was one way for them to do that.
Others discussed the need to show their commitment to addressing issues that can arise on a university campus.
“Being aware of abuse is important, especially for us in college,” said Alex Williams, senior, music composition major. “I’m doing this for my friends.”