Feb 1, 2022
Content Warning: Sexual assault, Violence against women
Despite the frigid cold and the threat of rain, community members gathered the evening of Valentine’s Day on the stairs of the Eugene federal building for an impassioned rally calling to end the war on women’s bodies.
Led by Erika Lincango Kitu-Panzeleo, founder BIWOC Rising, the rally made space for speakers and victims of sexual violence to share their stories and receive support from audience members. Speakers included were Dr. Luthi Whitebear, Violet Johnson, Nicolaj Byrdman, and Kat Borja.
The night began with Erika directing participants in making a circular arrangement hand woven out of roses. The arrangment was made to “honor the life of our sisters, because it represents missing and murdered indigenous women from all directions, from all paths of life,” said Erika, a teacher in the 4J school district.
Roses are placed to honor those lost.
In the center of the courtyard sat a defiled wedding dress, an art piece made as an homage to the rape culture perpetuated by Catholic marriages. Artist Kat Borja destroyd her former wedding dress as an act of catharsis, covering the dress in red handprints and pounded nails into the dress.
Borja also brought candles for attendees to light and say a prayer. Each candle and color memorialized transgender individuals murdered in 2021.
The main feature of the rally was the performance of the international feminist dance and song called El Violador Eres Tú, also known as Un violador en tu camino. Translating to the Rapist is you, the performance calls attention to the fact that rapists are everywhere in a community: doctors, teachers, parents, politicians. Guests were encouraged to wear provocative nightwear to fight against victim blaming that shifts blame to the survivor for wearing promiscuous clothing.
To finish out the night, attendees participated in a small demonstration at the Wayne Morse free speech plaza. Chanting the lyrics to El Violador Eres Tú, shouts echoed down the streets of Eugene this Valentine’s Day in solidarity with sisters impacted by sexual and gender violence. Learn how you can support this movement by following BIWOC Rising on Instagram and Facebook to stay tuned for more events and demonstrations.