Australian school defends assembly that was accused of 'slut-shaming'

Faith Sobotker said she doesn't care about impressing boys. Photo / Facebook
Faith Sobotker said she doesn't care about impressing boys. Photo / Facebook

A school accused of "slut-shaming" has defended its decision to hold an assembly to talk to young girls about the length of their skirts.

The principal at Kambrya College, in Berwick in Melbourne's southeast, said "that in no way did we suggest that what girls wear makes harassment or abuse acceptable".

Earlier this week it was revealed the college told girls not to send sexy selfies and that boys would not respect them if they wore short skirts.

The school held the assembly to address a widespread pornography ring where members were "hunting" schoolgirls, which was revealed by news.com.au last week.

Melbourne mother Catherine Manning wrote an open letter to the school about how the issue is not how short a girl's skirt is or the fact they send sexy selfies.

Instead it fell on the boys, their sense of entitlement and attitude towards women.

Ms Manning's letter was followed up by a video of Kambrya College student, Faith Sobotker, who accused the school of slut-shaming.

Melbourne mother Catherine Manning wrote an open letter after her daughter's school held an assembly for girls in Years 7 to 10. Photo / News Corp Limited
Melbourne mother Catherine Manning wrote an open letter after her daughter's school held an assembly for girls in Years 7 to 10. Photo / News Corp Limited

Kambrya College principal Michael Muscat said there had been misunderstandings about the assembly.

"As far as we are aware there has been no student involvement on the pornographic website, but if students become aware of any concerns, they should immediately seek the support of parents and Kambrya College staff," he said.

"It was stressed to students to be mindful of their digital footprint, and refrain from attempting to procure or disseminate inappropriate personal media which may be illegal."

Mr Muscat said two separate assemblies were held for boys and girls and said the girls' assembly was used as an opportunity to remind students of the existing uniform policy, which was finalised late last year following a consultation process with students, parents and staff.

"I want to be clear here and say that in no way did we suggest that what girls wear makes harassment or abuse acceptable. This is never the case," Mr Muscat said.

"The enforcement of our uniform policy and the abuse and the recent exploitation of girls online are separate issues and should be treated as such.

"In public discussion about these two issues at Kambrya College they have, however, become linked. We regret this. It was never our intention that this should occur."

In her video, Faith said the school suggested boys didn't respect girls with short skirts.

"Girls don't do things for boys or do things to impress boys. I don't care about boys, I care about myself," she said.

Faith also said nobody could tell her what self-respect was or to be ladylike.

"We don't live in the '50s anymore," she said.

She wanted to be able to show off her body without being sexualised and said nobody had the right to tell her that her body was sacred.

"Half the population are females. We're not sacred, we aren't a new discovery, people know I have legs, I have knees and thighs," she said.

On the response the college posted on its Facebook page, some commended the school for taking action while others criticised it.

One woman said while cyber-safety sessions were important for teens, it had to reach them and send the right message.

"Using that forum to remind girls to wear less revealing clothing at school was a big faux pas, and at least one student interpreted it as instruction on how not to be a target for something out of their control," she said.

"Especially as you've made no mention of the boys being reminded of uniform standards.

"That disparity in content is a problem as it looks very much like the two topics are being purposefully linked."

- news.com.au

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