Netta Hadid, transgender woman who died by suicide, mourned

600 join Jerusalem SlutWalk against sexual violence

In conservative capital, some demonstrators march half-dressed carrying signs lamenting rape culture and perpetual state of emergency that places women at risk

Israeli protesters chant slogans as they march in the SlutWalk in central Jerusalem, on May 24, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli protesters chant slogans as they march in the SlutWalk in central Jerusalem, on May 24, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Some 600 demonstrators marched through downtown Jerusalem on Friday for the city’s eighth annual SlutWalk protesting rape culture.

Many of the protesters were young women in their teens and twenties, who marched in various states of undress to make the point that women should be able to wear whatever they want without being sexually harassed.

The demonstration commenced at Davidka Square and from there, protesters marched down Jaffa Street, King George and Ben Yehuda before concluding at a stage on Heleni HaMalka Street where organizers gave a series of speeches.

A number of men who disapproved of the nature of the protest tried to disrupt the activists. The Ynet news site reported that eggs and other objects were hurled at those marching.

An ultra-Orthodox man burst into the parade, calling participants “prostitutes.” Another opponent charged at the organizers of the rally who were marching at the front of the crowd. The man was arrested by police.

Organizers dedicated the march in memory of Netta Hadid, a 23-year-old transgender woman who died by suicide earlier this week. They carried signs reading, “may her memory be a revolution” and “rape was happening before mini-skirts [were created.]”

Israeli protesters chant slogans as they march in the SlutWalk in central Jerusalem, on May 24, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“When women talk about sexual violence that they have endured… victim-blaming overflows society and it affects the prosecution and the rulings of the courts,” Shushan Weber told the crowd.

“State institutions do not have the tools to deal with sexual offenses and it does not seem to interest them either,” said Anna Kleiman.

A SlutWalk is a protest against those who explain or excuse rape based on a woman’s attire or appearance. The first such protest took place in Toronto, Canada in April 2011, in response to a police officer’s suggesting that “women should avoid dressing like sluts” in order to prevent being raped.

Since then, SlutWalks have taken place in cities around the world and have broadened their protest scope to include all types of sexual assault and harassment, as well as the prevalence of victim blaming.

This appeared to be the second time that half-dressed protesters took to the streets in Jerusalem in less than a week.

Last Saturday, hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men and boys clashed with police, blocking traffic and attacking officers during a protest against Shabbat transgression by workers preparing the Eurovision Song Contest final in Tel Aviv on the Jewish day of rest.

As protesters blocked roads beside an ultra-Orthodox area in the center of the city, at least four women stripped down to their bras, forcing the protesters to leave the area due to the prohibition against looking at women in dress deemed immodest.

Ultra-Orthodox men protest in smaller numbers every Saturday in that part of Jerusalem, where a few cafes and restaurants are open on Shabbat, and the women who confronted them work in those establishments.

Although the broadcast of the Eurovision final started after Shabbat, rehearsals and production preparations took place earlier in the day. The issuing of work permits for the event led an ultra-Orthodox political party to temporarily suspend coalition negotiations and sparked the Saturday protest in the capital.

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