Circle honoring victims of sexual assault closes out Philly advocacy event

Philadelphians, including Mayor Jim Kenney, joined hands to raise awareness of sexual voice at the WOAR Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence at their Hands Around City Hall event on April 29, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphians, including Mayor Jim Kenney, joined hands to raise awareness of sexual voice at the WOAR Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence at their Hands Around City Hall event on April 29, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

For a brief time on Friday afternoon, the courtyard inside Philadelphia City Hall became a space to silently honor victims of sexual assault.

At first, the circle of about 40 people stood quietly. Then, one by one, participants began to softly vocalize the names of loved ones who had been sexually assaulted, as well as groups of people who have been victimized.

Philadelphians, including Mayor Jim Kenney, joined hands to raise awareness of sexual voice at the WOAR Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence at their Hands Around City Hall event on April 29, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“We are here to honor survivors, hold them in our hearts, celebrate their strength, their resilience, share in their grief, and marvel in their talents and love,” said Rachel Copen, co-executive director of the Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence, before the circle formed.

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The short event, dubbed “Hands Around City Hall”, came at the tail end of a larger one dedicated to sexual assault. It unfolded as Sexual Assault Awareness Month winds down, but as the push from survivor groups to speak up and out about sexual violence continues.

Nearly every minute, an American is sexually assaulted.

Jovida Hill is the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Engagement for Women. She spoke at the WOAR Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence at their Hands Around City Hall event on April 29, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“If you see something, say something. We can’t be innocent bystanders,” said Jovida Hill, who leads the Mayor’s Office of Engagement for Women.

Resources offered by the WOAR Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence at their Hands Around City Hall event on April 29, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
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