Frequently Asked Questions
How do Silent Protestors ‘stand in solidarity’ with survivors?
Protestors have their mouths taped shut from 7am until about 5.30pm with black gaffer tape. This has two purposes. The first is that it offers a very stark and powerful image of the silencing associated with sexual violence which at the same time expresses resistance to the silencing and a willingness to stand with survivors. The second purpose of the taping is that it offers the protestors themselves an experience of being silenced, of sacrificing food, water and speech for a day in service of a greater cause. This doesn’t mean at all that they come to understand what rape survivors go through, but their capacity for empathy and understanding is enlarged. The Silent Protestors gather to bear witness to survivors’ stories during the Breaking the Silence event in the evening. Their actively listening presence enacts solidarity.
Why do people tape their mouths shut, rather than talk about the issue?
In order to make visible in a clear and powerful way how many people are affected by sexual violence and how many will never report what has happened to them. Silent Protestors embody for one day the silence, isolation and loss that most rape survivors live daily.
Why do some people not have their mouths taped shut?
For various reasons relating to work and health, some people can’t tape their mouths shut. They can wear a solidarity t-shirt and will not be taped. We encourage solidarity protestors to talk about and challenge ideas which support rape culture and to support their friends and colleagues who are wearing the silent or survivor shirts.
Who wears the rape survivor shirt?
Any survivor of rape, incest or child sexual abuse can wear the shirt, if they feel ready to self-identify.
Who wears the survivor shirt?
Any person who has experienced sexual violation of any form but would not call it rape and would not feel comfortable wearing a rape survivor t-shirt.
What is a die-in and why do we do it?
The die-in brings all protesters together over lunchtime. Tens of thousands are raped and murdered annually, more often by intimate partners than by strangers, but it is hard to imagine what that looks like, the tragedy gets lost in the numbers. Like the taped mouths, the purpose of a die-in is to create another visual image, allowing people to imagine what the statistics mean.
What is the Debrief Café?
From 08h30 to 17h00 on Friday 1 August in the RA Room, SteveBikoBuilding and from 10h00 to 17h00 on Saturday 2 August in the Hangar we will be running a Debrief Cafe for all protest participants. This is a space where participants can express themselves through art or conversation and process what they have experienced. Wellness leaders and counsellors will be available on both days.
Why do staff and students need to sign up if they already have a shirt?
Staff and students need to sign up even if they have a shirt and should indicate on the sign-up form that they will not need a t-shirt. This is in order to ensure that we know how many people to cater for at the Breaking the Silence event and to provide the police and the media with accurate numbers. In this case, staff and students will not be charged for another shirt but res students will have their meals unbooked. See Why do we unbook meals below for more information on this.
Why do we unbook meals?
Silent protestors who live in res, will have all 3 meals unbooked on the Silent Protest day. All other res students who sign up (as solidarity protestors, survivors or rape survivors) will only have their supper unbooked. This is in order to avoid wastage (silent protestors will have their mouths taped and will therefore not eat breakfast or lunch) and to subsidise supper for everyone at the end of the day. Since the Breaking the Silence event takes place in the evening over supper time, no-one participating can eat supper in the dining hall. The organisers use the money to make sure that all protestors can have one good meal at the end of the day.