Thursdays in Black (TIB): Towards a World Without Rape and Violence is a movement launched by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in the 1970s, as an activist branch of their Decade in Solidarity with Women. This decade was meant to address and combat issues that disproportionately affect women, and Thursdays in Black was to address and combat rape and sexual violence.
The WCC had no explicitly religious connotations for the TIB campaign, and asked only of their followers what we ask of you – wear black on Thursdays, wear the TIB badge, and commit to saying NO to sexual violence. The campaign is promoted internationally and people everywhere are invited and encouraged to take part. The TIB movement is particularly strong in South Africa, where it was re-launched in 2
008 as a part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. This campaign was an initiative to encourage the general public to be involved with various social justice initiatives. In South Africa, there is a strong partnership between TIB and community organisations who advocate for the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV and AIDS.
There are other activist groups across the globe who have historically dealt with issues of violence and used black as a motif, or organised on Thursdays. Mothers of the Plaza de la Mayo (Mothers of the Disappeared) grieved and protested publicly on Thursdays in Buenos Aires, for those killed in the Balkla War of the 1970s. In the 1990s, a group named Women in Black wore black and made women-to-women solidarity visits to Croatia and Serbia during the political unrest in the region. Thursdays in Black at New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) supports the anti-violence kaupapa of these movements and considers them a part of the political history of wearing black for activism and organising on Thursdays.
NZUSA and Tertiary Women New Zealand (TWNZ) adopted this campaign under the leadership of Women’s Rights Officer of 1994, Jan Logie. It was rolled out as an information-raising campaign on campus and experienced a high reach and lots of popularity at the time. While it specifically targeted students as a demographic, it experienced a lot of support from the sexual violence sector and other community organisations. As funding for the national student movement dwindled in the late ’90s, the full-time Women’s Rights position was dissolved. While the campaign continued to be run from the national office, it experienced strain from a lack of resources and eventually tapered off, with only minimal visibility at a select few campuses today.
In 2016, this campaign is being officially re-launched on campuses by NZUSA and TWNZ. The ethos of TIB remains the same – raising awareness and making concrete, measurable progress towards a world without rape and violence. The co-ordinators of the 2016 launch want to respect and honour the history of the campaign, while also expanding its reach to acknowledge the complex and varied ways that people of different groups experience sexual violence.
Photo: Jan Logie supporting the 2016 launch of Thursdays in Black