Jerusalem’s annual SlutWalk is scheduled to take place this coming Friday, with hundreds of demonstrators expected to gather in protest of violence against women and rape culture, and in the support of the numerous victims directly affected by it.
SlutWalk is a transnational movement that was born in 2011 when a Canadian police officer said that women “should avoid dressing like sluts” if they did not want to be victims of sexual violence. Women gather for SlutWalks around the world to protest this perception that a woman’s actions are the cause of violence against her.
In Israel this year, SlutWalk protests will be held in multiple cities including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and, for the first time, in Petah Tikvah and Rishon Lezion.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, one of the protest organizers Ofri Beibe explained the work that goes into the march, and why it’s so crucial that it takes place every year, and in Jerusalem in particular.
The Jerusalem SlutWalk takes around half a year to plan from start to finish, with teams covering everything from social media campaigns, and logistics such as receiving a permit for the event to take place, to educating the public about the event itself, Beibe explains.
“We do very very extensive and difficult work in explaining our cause,” she tells the Post. “All year long we operate on our social media, replying to people who have expressed opposition, in order to explain ourselves and why this work is so important.
“We work with schools and universities and all kinds of academic institutions to really get our message across,” she adds.
Although multiple events like the SlutWalk are held across Israel and across the globe annually, Jerusalem’s event is considered by many to be unique.
“We adapt ourselves to the character of the city,” says Beibe. “There are challenges in Jerusalem, there’s a lot of politics and conservatism and religion, and there’s the Charedim (ultra-Orthodox) vs the secular, etc.”
Nevertheless, she continues, despite the challenges, the SlutWalk protest plays an extremely significant role in Jerusalem, and it’s crucial that it is held in the city every year.
Epidemic of violence against women
Since the start of June 2022 alone, there have been at least three, possibly four, cases of femicide or attempted femicide in Israel, the most recent one being the case of Sapir Nahum, whose body was discovered 11 days after was reported missing, with her former partner being treated as the key suspect in the case.
“We are creating change slowly, but we cannot do it alone.”Ofri Beibe, organizer, SlutWalk Jerusalem
Asked about what she hopes will change as a result of the SlutWalk being held in such close proximity to multiple violent incidents carried out against women, Beibe says that change is unlikely to come, she expands, unless the decision-makers sitting high up in government decide to allocate real resources to fighting the phenomenon.
“We are currently being abandoned,” she tells the Post. “They are not investing money in [this cause] at the moment. They are not investing in education, they are not investing in enforcement, they are not investing in the law, and we are being abandoned.”
Highlighting the way in which the cause to end violence against women has been abandoned by those with the means to enact change, in the middle of the march on Friday, the names of over 20 women murdered in acts of femicide throughout the previous year will be read aloud.
“We give them a moment of honor, and of remembrance and pay final respects to the women who were brutally murdered.”
Beibe believes that while the impact of the SlutWalkmarch will not create drastic change from one day to the next, it is still slowly but surely creating an impact.
However, it is not enough, and support is needed from more places, she adds.
“We are creating change slowly, but we cannot do it alone. We also need partners. And we need the people who ultimately decide on our lives, that is, the people who sit in government because without them, nothing will change.”
The Jerusalem SlutWalk will take place on Friday, June 17, at 10 a.m. and will set out from Davidka Square in Jerusalem.