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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

When Community Engagement Restored Trust and Raised Public Index of Suspicion for COVID-19

Kampala, 4 September 2020:- When the World Health Organization (WHO), declared the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic, on 11th March 2020, many Ugandans didn’t take it seriously with many saying it was a disease for the affluent, the very high class or for developed countries. As the disease ravaged the entire world, Ugandans…
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    Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem Friday for the city’s annual SlutWalk, a protest against rape culture and violence against women.

    “We are going back out to the streets, to remind everyone that the public space is ours. That we have a voice. That we are not silent and we are not to blame for the violence directed at us,” said the Jerusalem SlutWalk organization.

    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.

    Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 18, 2020 (Ruchama Ehrenhalt).Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 18, 2020 (Ruchama Ehrenhalt).

    Participants in the demonstrations often dress in clothing that may be labeled revealing or “sluty” and “provocative” by some, and event organizers emphasize that there is no dress code.

    The character of Jerusalem’s SlutWalk is influenced by the diversity of the city. Protesters wearing only bras and thongs, or topless with stickers covering their nipples mingled with protesters in long dresses and skirts, many with their hair covered.

    Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 18, 2020 (Ruchama Ehrenhalt).Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 18, 2020 (Ruchama Ehrenhalt).

    The reactions of bystanders to the sight of the protest was just as diverse with some joining in chants and raising fists in support, some confused by the sight of the demonstration and some heckling and telling demonstrators to go to Tel Aviv.

    “We often get asked why [do we demonstrate] in Jerusalem,” Said an organizer. The response to those who ask is “What do you mean? We were born here. We grew up here. We were attacked and harassed here.

    “We are fighting for Jerusalem.”

    Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 18, 2020 (Ruchama Ehrenhalt).Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 18, 2020 (Ruchama Ehrenhalt).

    One religious protester said that she was inspired to join the demonstration when she heard remarks made about a woman that were “slut-shaming her for dressing in a religious way.” 

    “The myth that if you dress modestly it protects you and if you dress immodestly you deserve to be harassed is very pervasive” both in the religious community and outside of it, she went on to say.

    “Every religious woman knows that dressing modestly doesn’t protect you.”

    “The government is responsible for the situation,” said Yael Sherer, the head of Israel’s lobby against sexual violence, who said that she had come to support the effort. 

    Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 18, 2020 (Ruchama Ehrenhalt).Jerusalem SlutWalk, June 18, 2020 (Ruchama Ehrenhalt).

    The walk began at the Davidka, with protesters marching down to Zion Square, where the names of women murdered in 2021 were read. Protesters then held a moment of silence for these women, followed by a moment in which the crowd, which had swelled to around 500 protesters, let out a collective scream for the victims. 

    The walk ended near the Taklit bar, where protesters had the chance to come up and tell their personal stories. Many women and men spoke about violence and attacks they had faced, supported by the crowd who shouted that they believed the stories of those hurt, that they loved and supported them and that those sharing their stories are not alone.

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