Gender based violence is a universal and global issue that harms men, women and children in their most private spheres. We often feel helpless and hopeless in the face of so much pain and injustice.
However, we can all be involved in a simple but powerful campaign to address gender violence. Every Thursday, people around the world wear black as a symbol of strength and courage, representing our solidarity with victims and survivors of violence, and calling for a world without rape and 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.
Thursdays in Black focuses on ways that individuals can challenge attitudes that cause rape and violence, on a personal and public level. It provides an opportunity for people to become part of a worldwide movement which enables the despair, pain and anger about rape and other forms of violence to be transformed into political action.
CABSA became involved in the Thursdays in Black campaign in 2012 and has been actively promoting the campaign ever since. Joining this campaign has been a profound journey for the organization and has changed the way the organization thinks and responds to gender issues and gender based violence. For us at CABSA, Thursdays in Black has become a spiritual discipline rather than just another campaign. Thursdays in Black is supported by individuals, churches, denominations and organizations worldwide.
How can I join?
- Wear Black on Thursdays and say NO to abuse of women, men and children.
- Commit to this campaign and sign the pledge at: thursdaysinblack.co.za/pledge/
- Wear the Thursdays in Black badge and encourage others to support the campaign.
- Badges can be ordered from CABSA's offices or the Thursdays in Black website.
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 honour 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 who .
In the 1980s, Thursdays in Black became an international human rights campaign supported by the World Council of Churches as a peaceful way of saying "I support the human right of women to live in a world without violence, rape and fear." The focus of the WCC campaign was a peaceful protest against rape and violence, the by-products of war and conflict. The campaign focused on ways that individuals can challenge attitudes that cause rape and violence.
In South Africa the campaign was launched by the Diakonia Council of Churches during the 16 Days of Activism Campaign at the end of 2008, as an ongoing drive to raise awareness and encourage people to work towards a world without rape and violence against women and children. "We encourage local churches to join hands with people around the world by wearing black on Thursdays to indicate that we are tired of putting up with rape and violence in our communities and that we have a desire for a community where we can all walk safely without fear of being beaten up, verbally abused, raped, of being discriminated against due to one's gender or sexual orientation." "Wearing black on Thursdays highlights the unacceptably high levels of abuse against women in our society."
The response has been positive and many people, both women and men, have committed themselves to wearing black on Thursdays. This is an outward sign of mourning and of standing in solidarity with women who have died at the hands of their partners and signifies a desire to make a difference in our world. The campaign has been adopted by many organisations and CABSA enthusiastically embraced this in 2012. Churches, commercial organisations and NGOs embraced the campaign in many countries and the World Council of Churches re-invigorated their involvements at the General Assembly in Busan in 2013.
You can download documents with a short summary of the campaign to print as fliers below.