Women in Black forms, begins weekly vigils

Joy Goldstein, center, is a member of Women in Black. On the right are Swaneagle Harijan and Maryrose Asher. - Leslie Brown/Staff Photo
Joy Goldstein, center, is a member of Women in Black. On the right are Swaneagle Harijan and Maryrose Asher.
— image credit: Leslie Brown/Staff Photo

A group of Islanders will begin donning black and holding a vigil every Thursday afternoon, joining a loose network of women around the world who have been silently protesting war and violence for more than two decades.

The movement first garnered attention in the 1980s in Argentina, when mothers of the “disappeared” began silently protesting the abductions of their sons and daughters during the country’s so-called “Dirty War.”

The effort became known as Women in Black in 1988, when Israeli and Palestinian women dressed in black and stood silently along busy streets in Israel to protest what they saw as Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

On Vashon, five women held their first vigil last Thursday. They plan to gather every Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. on Vashon’s busy four corners in the heart of town. They hope others will join them.

Maryrose Asher, one of the organizers of the effort, said her motivation is personal: She just lost her brother to prostate cancer; a weekly silent vigil, she said, is a way to mourn his loss and “speak to a lot of issues having to do with peace and justice.”

Joy Goldstein, another Islander at last week’s vigil, said she was motivated to support the effort after the death of 1st Lt. Robert Bennedsen, who was killed in Afghanistan on July 18 — the first Islander to die in the nine-year Afghan conflict.

“That young man was a good person,” she said. “I’m just furious with the whole system that takes people like that.”

Swaneagle Harijan, another woman at Thurs-day’s vigil, said she was there because of her concern about the role of women in society and “whose voices are not considered in the global dialogue about war and peace.”

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