Gender based violence is a universal and global issue that harms men, women and children in their most private arena. People often feel helpless and hopeless in the face of so much pain and injustice.
In 2011 a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation has ranked India as the world’s most dangerous country for women to live in. However, we can all be involved in a simple but powerful campaign to address gender Based violence.
Thursdays in Black encourages everyone, men and women, to wear black every Thursday. This can be a campaign T-shirt, other black clothing or simply a campaign badge as a sign of their support.
Wearing black on Thursdays shows others that you are tired of putting up with violence, and calls for communities where we can all walk safely without fear; fear of being beaten up, fear of being verbally abused, fear of being raped, fear of discrimination. The campaign is not confined only to countries at war, but recognizes that violence takes many forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, incest, murder, female infanticide, genital mutilation, sexual harassment, discrimination and sex trafficking.
The Thursdays in Black campaign protests began in the 1970s and its roots lie in groups such as Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina. These women began wearing black sashes in honor of their friends and family members who were disappearing, being raped, and abused. They would gather every Thursday in silence to protest the loss of loved ones under the military dictatorship, with the aim of raising the government’s awareness that these acts of violence were happening in their homeland. Other groups have developed including women who wanted to express outrage at the rape-death camps in war torn Bosnia, the Black Sash in South Africa and women who oppose the Israel occupation of the West Bank and ordinary woman all over the world.
In the 1980s, Thursdays in Black became an international human rights campaign supported by different organizations, groups and individual as a peaceful way of saying “I support the human right of women’s to live in a world without violence, rape and fear.”
National Council of Churches in India has been part of “Thursday in Black” campaign, and it acknowledges the churches, organizations, faith groups and individual who have been part of this campaign.
Jayalakshmi is a domestic violence survivor and her story is that of lakhs of other Indian women. That is why it needs to be told.
National Council of Churches in India invites people to join this worldwide movement which enables the despair, pain and anger about rape and other forms of violence to be transformed into political action.