Thousands join Tel Aviv SlutWalk against sexual violence

Some demonstrators march half-clothed, 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)
Illustrative: Hundreds take part in the Jerusalem SlutWalk protest on May 18 2018 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Thousands of demonstrators marched through Tel Aviv on Friday for the annual SlutWalk protesting rape culture.

Protesters carried placards bearing photos of well-known sex offenders including former president Moshe Katsav, the Haaretz daily reported.

Some of the protesters marched in various states of undress to make the point that women should be able to wear whatever they want without being sexually harassed.

Nitzan, a demonstrator who traveled from Rehovot for the event, explained to the newspaper why he felt it was so important to attend.

“If there is a person who cannot walk around day or night with a sense of security, we have lost,” he said. “It’s my struggle as well as everyone else’s here.”

Israelis take part in the annual SlutWalk march in central Tel Aviv, on May 4, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Liraz from Jerusalem told the newspaper that she has friends who have been raped and are “ashamed to come and march, so I walk for them.”

Nitzan Kahana, director of the Task Force on Human Trafficking, said the timing of the march was significant given planned legislation to limit the powers of the Supreme Court.

“The first victims of the planned destruction of the rule of law will be us, we will be the first to be harmed if we do not start, as soon as possible, to fight for our lives,” she said.

“By the skin of our teeth we manage against those who say women cannot serve in the army, those who say that women and men should be separated, those who send us to the back of the bus.

“We are marching here today — not only for those who are here with us — but for all the women in Israel, from Bnei Brak to Kiryat Shmona, from Taybeh to Dimona,” she said naming cities in the north and south of the country as well as the ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak and the Arab city of Taybeh.

Israelis take part at the SlutWalk march in central Tel Aviv, on July 8, 2016. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

Last week, some 600 demonstrators marched through downtown Jerusalem for the city’s eighth annual SlutWalk.

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.

Police detain an Orthodox man after he shouted at activists chanting slogans during the 8th annual ‘SlutWalk’ march through central Jerusalem on May 24, 2019 (GALI TIBBON / AFP)

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.]”

“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.

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

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.

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