The need to put an end to rape and the culture of silence around it was the focus of a rally held on Saturday afternoon at the Esplanade Saint-Léonard in Liège.
Many women’s rights groups participated in the rally, which was organised by Orlane Graindorge, a 25-year-old from Liège who decided to hold it after being raped two years ago. About 100 persons were present at the event between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM.
Ms Graindorge launched a call on social media on 6 February, inviting participants to come and vent their pain. She then decided to create a non-profit association of her own, ‘Don’t cry, talk,” to assist victims of sexual attacks.
However, on 9 March, four men broke into her home and attacked her with a knife – she had to have 41 stitches – to prevent the projected non-profit organisation from seeing the light of day.
Ms Graindorge then announced that she was pulling out of the project as a precaution, but she then went back on that decision. “I founded the non-profit association along with a second person, and I mean to fight,” she vowed. “For the moment, the Statutes have been revised and my lawyer will soon send the papers to the monitor.”
Saturday’s rally was aimed at reaffirming the participants’ will to support all rape victims, and its action was supported by a wide range of women’s rights groups. These included: “La Piraterie-Masse Critique Féministe et Queer”, “Les Femmes prévoyantes socialistes”, “Le Gluegang Liège”, “Vie Féminine”, “Et ta S?ur ?”, “Collectif contre les violences familiales et l’exclusion”, “La tête haute” and “L-Slam”.
Members of these groups wished to reiterate their anger and determination by being by the side of Orlane Graindorge. T-shirts, visual aids, the works of local artists and an urn could be seen on the esplanade. An online fundraising activity was also launched to support Orlane, following the recent knife attack against her.
Saturday’s event brought together a significant number of participants, some of whom gave testimonies which, Ms Graindorge said, spurred her on to continue her fight. In fact, she had a meeting with Liège Mayor Willy Demeyer to discuss her proposed non-profit association.
“The Mayor showed me his support and encouraged me to go and see him to put everything in place,” she said.