Annual Jerusalem SlutWalk protests violence against women

In Hebrew, the event is known as "Tza'adat Hamufkarot," with the word Mufkarot chosen for its double meaning of both "slut" and "abandoned."

 A participant at the Jerusalem SlutWalk holding a sign reading "may their memory be a revolution," June 17, 2022 (photo credit: SHIRA SILKOFF)
A participant at the Jerusalem SlutWalk holding a sign reading "may their memory be a revolution," June 17, 2022
(photo credit: SHIRA SILKOFF)

An estimated 600 people gathered in Jerusalem’s Davidka Square on Friday morning for the city’s annual SlutWalk – an event protesting violence against women and rape culture.

As a global movement, the first SlutWalk was held in 2011 in Canada after a police officer said that women “should avoid dressing like sluts” if they did not want to be victims of sexual violence. In Hebrew, the event is known as “Tza’adat Hamufkarot,” with the word Mufkarot chosen for its double meaning of both “slut” and “abandoned.”

The theme of abandonment features prominently throughout the event, with many people either holding signs or shouting chants relating to what they say is the failure of both the government and Israel Police when it comes to adequately addressing violence against women.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post ahead of the event, SlutWalk organizer Ofra Beibe touched upon this topic.

“We are currently being abandoned,” she told 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.

“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.”

 A participant at the Jerusalem SlutWalk holding a sign reading ''abandoned at the hands of the government,'' June 17, 2022 (credit: Shira Silkoff) A participant at the Jerusalem SlutWalk holding a sign reading ''abandoned at the hands of the government,'' June 17, 2022 (credit: Shira Silkoff)

A cross-section of Jerusalem

Although SlutWalk is an international movement, many believe the march in Jerusalem to be different from the other events, citing the city’s unique makeup as the reason for this. And, it is easy to see why this may be the case as the crowds gather for the event – religious women in head coverings and knee-length skirts mingle with girls in shorts and vests all coming together in support of the same message – male violence is not caused by how the victim dresses.

 A participant dressed in clothes adhering to Jewish modesty laws at the Jerusalem SlutWalk holding a sign reading ''if modesty is the answer why am I still so scared,'' June 17, 2022 (credit: Shira Silkoff) A participant dressed in clothes adhering to Jewish modesty laws at the Jerusalem SlutWalk holding a sign reading ''if modesty is the answer why am I still so scared,'' June 17, 2022 (credit: Shira Silkoff)

Setting out from Davidka Square, the procession made its way through the streets of Jerusalem’s town center, with drum beats accompanying the chants and cries of the attendees. 

"No means no! no means no! which part of no did you not understand?!" was one of the more popular chants heard as it was shouted over the megaphone, along with "smiling is never an invitation to rape," and "the blood of women is not free!"

Walking through the streets crowded with people going about their weekends, the protestors were met with varied responses - from encouraging cheers to confused stares, to apparent disgust as one woman covered her daughter's eyes and hurried her in the other direction. 

"May her memory be a revolution"

The procession continued until it reached Zion Square, where the participants formed a circle around one of the event organizers, who took the megaphone and began to speak.

Addressing the protestors and some curious passersby, she shared that on average, 20 women are murdered in acts of femicide in Israel each year. In the last week alone, she continued, at least three women have been killed. 

 Participants at the Jerusalem SlutWalk hold signs reading ''short skirts don't cause rape, rapists do,'' and ''modesty is not the solution, from experience,'' June 17, 2022 (credit: EVE YOUNG) Participants at the Jerusalem SlutWalk hold signs reading ''short skirts don't cause rape, rapists do,'' and ''modesty is not the solution, from experience,'' June 17, 2022 (credit: EVE YOUNG)

To cries of "shame! shame!" from the protestors, the organizer began to read out the names of the femicide victims that have been recorded since the start of 2022, including Sapir Nahum whose body was discovered earlier this week after a search spanning 11 days. The prime suspect in her murder is her former partner.

After each name was read out, the crowd responded with "may her memory be a revolution," an adapted version of the old Jewish adage "may their memory be a blessing," that is said upon hearing the news that someone has passed away. 

 A sign reading ''in the last week, three women have been murdered,'' seen at Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 17, 2022 (credit: Shira Silkoff) A sign reading ''in the last week, three women have been murdered,'' seen at Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 17, 2022 (credit: Shira Silkoff)

A minute of silence for the victims followed, as well as a minute in which participants were ordered to yell at the top of their lungs, for themselves, and for those who could no longer make noise. 

Then, to chants of "no means no!" and "even if I didn't shout then, I am shouting now," the procession continued on, ending outside the Israel Police station, where stories and experiences of survivors were shared to the listening crowd.