I spent the morning at the Cypriot courthouse with 70 other Israelis protesting the sentencing of a rape victim for "public mischief", a crime she was charged with because she dared go to the police to report a gang-rape. Despite the evidence supporting her story — 35 bruises on her arms and legs and genitals, 12 condoms, blood, pathology reports supporting the forensic evidence, psychology reports on the impact of the trauma — despite all this, the police treated HER like a suspect from the first moment, did not believe her, and turned her into a criminal. The judge yelled at her, blamed her, refused to listen to evidence, and would not let her talk. So today, at the urging of Prof Ruhama Weiss, a bunch of former strangers came together via a few short flights and hopped over the Mediterranean to take a stand outside the courthouse and let the victim know that she is not alone.
We arrived half an hour before she and her mother did, we met up with another 50-100 protesters from Cyprus and the UK and other countries, and together we made noise. A LOT of noise. In at least three different languages.
We chanted, "We believe you" and "Cyprus justice shame on you" and "Jail the rapists, not the victim." We learned a few Greek phrases of protest. And we just kept chanting.
We kept chanting as the girl entered the courthouse.
We kept chanting as the sentencing hearing was taking place.
We kept chanting as people started filing out.
We paused for a while as we listened to her mother make a statement, and then as her lawyer made a statement.
We chanted again as the car with the girl and her mother drove by.
And then we hung around for a while, singing Power Woman songs, talking to reporters, uploading social media, and basking in our newfound voices while we figure out what's next — for the rape victim, and for women everywhere.