Since midnight of 25th November Sarah Cheverton has not spoken. She won’t be speaking again until the 11th December. She hopes that her silence will raise £650 towards a women’s sewing factory in Palestine and raise awareness about the broader issue of violence against women.
“I decided I wanted to raise the money last year, during a visit I took to Israel and Palestine to help with the annual olive harvest,” said Sarah.
“On the trip, I visited a village called Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, where I met a number of local women who were raising money to develop a sewing factory in the village. These women were living in the shadow of the military occupation of the West Bank, and their lives and the lives of their children and families were touched with violence on a daily basis.
“Despite this, the commitment and the determination that they possessed to create a better life for themselves and their families was so inspiring. And that’s when the idea for the sponsored silence was born.”
The silence is taking place during the international 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign, organised by the Global Centre for Women’s Leadership.
This year’s theme for the 16 Days campaign highlights the impact that conflicts, war and military forces have on women’s safety and their experiences of violence. This includes the importance of women’s involvement in peace talks in Afghanistan, and the use of rape in the Congo, and it also includes the impact on the women in Nabi Saleh, whose lives are affected every day by violence and military force.
Before she started her silence at midnight, Sarah marched with Portsmouth’s Reclaim the Night March organised by Portsmouth’s White Ribbon Group to raise awareness about violence against women. The march took place on Friday 25th November, the International Day Against Violence Against Women.
Sarah chose a sponsored silence for two main reasons.
“I think that silence often goes alongside violence against women. For example, many women stay silent about the violence they experience in their daily lives. But at home and abroad, women’s voices and their experiences of violence often are not heard – in the media, or by governments.”
“The other reason is really simple. I talk a lot, so I thought that my friends and family would be more willing to part with some money in exchange for me shutting up for a couple of weeks!”