A year participating in #ThursdaysinBlack

by Berdine van den Toren-Lekkerkerker last modified 10 September 2019 01:21 PM
A year participating in #ThursdaysinBlack

Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

10 September 2019

This will be my last weekly posting of a news article from the past week related to violence against women and girls around the world. Following the 70thanniversary of the World Council of Churches a year ago, I decided to join the WCC movement of #ThursdaysinBlack to speak out against violence and discrimination by wearing black and by posting on Facebook each week, for the duration of one year.

The year has gone, and what has it done? Has it made any difference?

I am sure that some people may even have been somewhat irritated by my regular postings, always on the issue of violence against women. Have I become a ‘single issue’, ‘mono-focus’ person?

The first thing I noticed while committing to this movement was that it was not difficult to find an article to post each week. Rather, I regularly had a choice between several news items or articles. And the question can be asked: Why had I not noticed before? Is the problem not that I have become single issue, but rather that I was oblivious and complacent of the true extent of the violent, abusive and oppressive reality of many women in the world?

Secondly, throughout this year, my focus changed from seeing women and girls as victims to understanding that they are survivors. This is also my experience during my travels around the world. Women may be abused or oppressed, but somehow they find strength and perseverance to live, to raise children, to build community. What they need is solidarity from men and women around the world.

Thirdly, violence can only be overcome when it is named and exposed, when it is understood in all its dimensions and origins, and when people together find new ways of addressing causes and opportunities for change. Exposure and the naming of violence is not to grow hatred and resentment, but to overcome it through solidarity, true relationships and reconciliation.

And finally: the WCC #ThursdaysinBlack campaign was inspired by:

The Mothers of the Disappeared in Buenos Aires, Argentina who on Thursdays protested at the Plaza de Mayo, against the disappearance of their children during the violent dictatorship.

The Women in Black in Israel and Palestine, who up to now protest against war and violence.

Women in Rwanda and Bosnia who were protesting against the use of rape as a weapon of war during the genocide.

The Black Sash movement in South Africa protesting against apartheid and its use of violence against black people.

Of course, I have no pretension that my weekly action, the small protest I can voice, can be measured against any of those movements. But…. If, together with all those around the world participating in this movement of #ThursdaysinBlack, our weekly moment of reflection, of prayer, of naming and exposing the violence and injustice, will just be like a little drop on a rock, falling again and again, just until... it shapes the rock, creates a dip or a crack, it will have been worth it. It definitely has shaped my perception of the problem, my understanding, and therefore will also shape the choices I make, the way I live my life.

A year has gone. I may not post a weekly article anymore. But, I will continue (most weeks) to wear black on Thursdays, because I have been changed, and I want to remember, I want to pray, I want to live towards justice and peace.

berdineBerdine van den Toren-Lekkerkerker, was born and is now again living in the Netherlands, working as a Mission Partner with the Church Mission Society, for theological and mission education. She and her family lived and worked for eight years in the Central African Republic, and another eight years in the UK, in Oxford. She is currently writing her PhD thesis on Community – local and worldwide - as Mission.


The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

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