Less than a year after a group of Canadian women held the Slutwalk protest in
response to a policeman’s comment that if women want to avoid being attacked
they should not dress like sluts, Israel is poised to follow suit with its first
Mitzad Sharmuta (Slutwalk) next week.
“The problem here is that rape is
often seen as being the fault of the woman and during court cases or
investigations there is always reference to how many partners she might have had
in the past or how she was dressed, but that is just not relevant,” Ya’ara
Liebermann-Callif, one of the women involved in organizing next Friday’s
Slutwalk in Tel Aviv, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview
She pointed out that Israeli society is no different in its
attitudes towards rape and rape victims than Canada, England, America or any of
the other places where similar Slutwalks have been held over the past
“Israel is a patriarchal society and we are very worried about how
women are viewed,” said Liebermann-Callif, a 17- year-old high school student
who has actively used Facebook and other social media to attract nationwide
attention to the protest that kicks off in Tel Aviv’s Gan Meir at 11 a.m. So
far, more than 2,000 people have indicated that they will attend and the
initiative has already drawn wide media attention.
the Tel Aviv protest will be followed by a similar event in Haifa on March 23
and also in Jerusalem sometime in April.
“Women are blamed for all the
bad things that happen to them, but no woman asks to be raped or asks for a man
to touch her,” she said. “Rape does not happen because someone is behaving in a
sexual way, it happens for other reasons completely.”
While the premise
of such a protest has most certainly been lauded worldwide as a way for women to
speak out against sexual violence – organizers of the original protest said the
underlying goal is to redeem the term slut – there has been some debate over
using such a derogatory word and over the protest’s crass methods.
many of the Slutwalks held worldwide women choose to dress provocatively, some
wearing only their underwear, to drive home the point that it does not matter
what a woman is wearing – she is never asking to be raped or
Despite the fact that Liebermann-Callif told the Post that
women participating in the protest should come dressed however they want, and
that women of all ages were invited to join the event, there has already been a
local backlash against bringing the global protest to Israel.
resident and mother of three young girls Varda Bachrach said that she had no
intention of joining the protest because “the word slut should never be used to
“It’s a word that should not be used at all,” said
Bachrach, adding that since hearing about the Slutwalks a year ago she has been
uncomfortable with the display and when she found out it was coming to Israel
decided to speak out against the event on a news blog.
“I like the idea
of going on a protest where women are speaking out for themselves,” she told the
Post. “However, I can’t bring myself to go on a walk called Slutwalk and
certainly would not take my daughters to such a protest.”
that she does not oppose women dressing however they want to, but she asked,
“why is it that in order for women to fight for a cause they feel it is
necessary to take off their clothes? “It’s a great opportunity that a global
protest movement is coming to Israel but maybe it’s time that we need to
re-evaluate the goals and ask if we really want to be taking part in a
‘Sharmuta’ walk,” she said.
Efrat Oren, spokeswoman of the Association of
Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI), said that while the non-profit
organization is not involved in organizing the Israeli Slutwalk, it is
supportive of the protest’s central message and plans to join next
“We have not formulated an opinion on the name or the methods of
this protest movement but the idea behind it is very important,” she
“It does not matter what women are wearing, they never invite rape
ARCCI, which runs the national hotlines for female and
male victims of rape and sexual assault, said it receives more than 40,000 calls
each year from women reporting sexual assault.