A controversial "SlutWalk"
rally that has drawn hundreds in Tel Aviv and Haifa in recent months is coming to Jerusalem on Friday, unless officials in the ultra-Orthodox community have the final say in the matter.
Some 160 people have already pledged to attend the march, which aims to counter those who claim women who choose certain styles of dress or behavior provoke rape and sexual assault. The march is to begin at Paris Square in central Jerusalem, and to culminate at Horse Park (Gan Hasus).
The catalyst for the worldwide protest movement was a statement made by a Canadian police officer, who suggested last year that to remain safe, "women should avoid dressing like sluts." Similar marches have taken place across the globe.
Or Levy, 22, an organizer of the march, said that she got the idea to bring the protest to Jerusalem after being subjected to derisive comments from a resident who disliked the way she dressed.
Tel Aviv SlutWalk in March (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
"I was walking down King George Street in an outfit that was a bit revealing when a woman began cursing at me and calling me 'Slut,'" she recalled. "We intend to demand the right for women to walk safely down the street regardless of how we choose to dress – a right that men get naturally."
Levy noted that she is not concerned about haredim attempting to sabotage the march, which has been authorized by the police. "This is not a measure that is directed at them, but at a general male perception," she said.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yossi Deutsch said he is looking into ways to prevent the "disgraceful" rally from taking place.
"I am shocked, ashamed and disgusted by the idea and the title," he told Ynet. "What have we come to when a woman who wants to say 'I am not an object' chooses to take part in this march?
"Event the title of the rally is questionable," Deutsch said. "Jerusalem is a different city, it has a sanctity that no other city has… Not everything that happens in Tel Aviv should be brought to Jerusalem."
The SlutWalks are characterized by their participants' often minimal clothing style.
"Each woman will arrive dressed in whichever style she chooses," said Sarit Hashkes, 28, a student. "The goal is to make it clear that the way a woman chooses to dress is not an excuse or a reason to harass or attack her. Harassment or rape cannot be blamed on the victims' style of clothing."