Rob Ford's niece tweets 'don't dress like a whore'
Krista Ford, daughter of Councillor Doug Ford and niece of Mayor Rob Ford, has quit the Toronto Triumph, the city's entry in the Lingerie Football League. (MICHAEL PEAKE/Toronto Sun files)
TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford's niece apologized Thursday for the uproar she caused by telling women "don't dress like a whore" to avoid being sexually assaulted.
"I didn't mean to cause such an alarm and I apologize if I did," Krista Ford wrote in a statement sent to QMI Agency Thursday after a firestorm of criticism. "I just want women to be safe."
"What I meant to say was that women should take measures to protect themselves and be very careful not to place themselves or allow themselves to be placed in vulnerable positions that may compromise their safety. It's important that the public knows that my comments do not reflect my family's beliefs."
Ford -- one of Councillor Doug Ford's daughters and a former member of the Lingerie Football League's Toronto Triumph team -- issued the mea culpa less than 24 hours after posting a message on her Twitter account giving safety advice to women shortly after Toronto Police held a press conference about a rash of sex assaults downtown.
"Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don't dress like a whore. #DontBeAVictim #StreetSmart" she wrote on her Twitter account, @kristaford on Wednesday night.
The tweet was later removed but it led to a backlash on Twitter and in the media. While the story was well covered in Toronto it also caught the attention of news outlets across Canada and in the U.S. - the New York Daily News posted a story on the controversial tweet Thursday afternoon.
In her statement sent to QMI Agency on Thursday, Ford said she's learned a lot in her 21 years.
"At the end of the day I am the first one to promote healthy living and an active lifestyle for women," Ford wrote. "I started boxing competitively when I was 14 for the love of the sport, and soon after started kickboxing as I believe every women should be able to defend herself.
"Being aware of your surroundings and avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations such as walking alone at night may decrease your likelihood of being a victim."
Councillor Ford didn't return calls Thursday about the incident.
Mayor Rob Ford said his niece has apologized and appealed "we all have to move on now."
"It's a mistake she made, she regrets it, she apologized for it," Rob Ford told reporters Thursday at the Canadian National Exhibition.
"She's very young, right? So, I think we're all young and we all did things that we regret when we're younger."
Krista Ford has been in the public spotlight before.
She made headlines last year when she signed up for the Toronto Triumph - the city's new Lingerie Football League team and was named captain.
In October, Ford and several of her teammates quit the team.
Early last year, a Toronto Police officer warned women in a York University law class that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
That comment, for which the officer later apologized, prompted the start of the SlutWalk protest in April 2011. The march has since become a global phenomenon aimed at condemning the belief that a woman's way of dressing makes her a target.
SlutWalk Toronto took to its Twitter account, @SlutWalkTO, Thursday to respond to Ford's comment.
"(Krista Ford's) tweet was victim-blaming and misguided," the organization tweeted. "That said, harassing, slut-shaming, name-calling, threatening her is not helpful."
In a second tweet, the group encouraged Ford to get in touch if she has any questions.
"We hope you're open to understanding why your statements upset people and learn," the tweet concluded.