Texas A&M International University will hold "The Clothesline Project," a visual display that calls attention to violence against women, on Tuesday, April 6 and Wednesday, April 7 from 12 noon - 7 p.m.
The display is free and open to the public. It features over 100 shirts, each created by or for women who have experienced violence, strung on clotheslines across the University campus. Twenty of the featured shirts were created by local survivors. The other featured shirts were created by survivors from the San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Houston areas.
Event organizer Viky Garcia, director of the University's Career Planning and Placement office, explained the unique display airs "society's dirty laundry" by letting each woman tell her own story, in her own unique way, and hanging it out for all to see.
"Doing laundry has traditionally been considered women's work, and since women often exchanged information over backyard fences while hanging their clothes out to dry, a women's group in Boston created the idea of hanging survivors' shirts on a clothesline as a provocative, in-your-face educational and healing tool. The concept has since been used throughout the world to show the staggering statistics on violence against women," said Garcia.
During the display, a secured area will be provided on campus where survivors and friends and family of survivors may safely create shirts. The Sisters of Mercy and the Salvation Army have provided a limited number of shirts and supplies for those who wish to create their shirts during the Project. Counseling services will be available for those preparing shirts.
The Clothesline Project will also feature audible reminders of violence against women. During the display, a gong will strike every 14 seconds to indicate the rate at which women are battered in the US, and a whistle will blow every 60 seconds to indicate that every minute of every day more than one woman is raped in this country. A bell will also be rung to indicate that every day in America 3 to 4 women are killed by their partners.
The free two-day event will also feature a "Take Back the Night" ceremony Tuesday, April 6 at 6 p.m. The ceremony will include a moment of silence for victims and survivors of violence; a brief march around the campus Green; a "circle is cast" observance in which four women will face north, south, east and west, with each direction representing women's abused bodies, abused minds and ignored wisdom, suppressed rage and anger, and women's grief and pain, respectively; Sister Rosemary Welsh and other speakers from the University and the community; music by Virginia Avila and Sandra Villanueva, and dancing by Bede Leyendecker and Mamie Gutierrez. Organizations participating in the ceremony include the Girl Scouts, the Cigarroa High School "Secrets to Success," Casa de Misericordia, and the District Attorney's Domestic Violence Unit.
The Laredo Clothesline Project is sponsored by the University's Safety, Health, and Wellness Initiative. They sponsored the city's first Clothesline Project last year and hold the event in April in observance of "Sexual Assault Awareness Month" and "Child Abuse Prevention Month."
For more information on The Clothesline Project at A&M International April 6 - 7, please contact Garcia at 326-2260 or the University's Office of Student Health Services at 326-2235. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.
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