Whanganui holds silent vigil

Vigil

In solidarity with the events held today in Auckland and Wellington, a small but heartfelt silent vigil was held in Whanganui, to mourn Jyoti Singh Pandey and to call for an end to rape culture worldwide.

A group of around 20 people of all ages gathered in Majestic Square in Whanganui's CBD, and held a half hour silence. A single candle burned in a jar in the centre of a peaceful circle of sitters, most of whom wore white.

This vigil was organised in response to the events in Auckland and Wellington, which were organised by Shakti. Individuals in Whanganui who feel strongly about gender violence issues decided to hold their own local vigil as they could not be present in the main centres.

Chalk messages on surrounding footpaths and a simple black and white placard drew the attention of passers by to the reasons for the vigil. Some people quietly gave the thumbs up or a nod as they passed. There was no negative feedback and no interference with the event.

At the end of the silence, attenders held hands. One of the organisers of the event said 'Today we have been silent for half an hour. This silence recognises the lack of words there are to express the pain and suffering caused by rape and violence. This silence also calls to account another type of silence - the silence which allows rape culture to exist.' The mood of the gathering suggested that many people felt strongly about the death of this young woman, but also the fate of thousands of other victims around the world and within the local community. Although it is fortunate when such incidents come to the attention of the mainstream media, the news reporting of this story has weighed on people's hearts. Attenders felt that it was appropriate to hold a public commemoration, as a way to bring attention to the issue of rape culture, but also to build hope.

Lukas, aged two and three quarters, was one of those present. Sitting on his grandmothers' knee, he pointed to everyone in the circle and said 'This is a family.'
The organisers hope that this spirit of family will continue to spread, as more and more people around the world take to the streets to express both their sorrows and their desires for a better world.

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