Year-long creative initiative to shed light, build support for stronger sexual assault laws to protect Hoosier women


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Year-long creative initiative to shed light, build support for stronger sexual assault laws to protect Hoosier women

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 25, 2019) – More than 1.5 million Hoosiers report being raped or sexually assaulted, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. And each year, many of the people responsible for those crimes are not prosecuted due to weak state laws.

Women4Change and the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault are determined to lower the number of sexual assaults in Indiana and strengthen state laws around sexual assault. They will do so with support from the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields and a growing list of organizations that include arts and cultural groups, as well sexual assault survivors’ groups 

Today, with dozens of postcards bearing descriptions of sexual assaults experienced by Indiana women strung on a clothesline behind them, the organizations’ leaders launched a year-long creative initiative designed to compel legislators to advocate for the safety of Hoosier women.

El Tendedero/The Clothesline will feature art exhibitions, writing workshops, play readings, library reading recommendations, a healing service, a Statehouse event and more. The first public event is Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. Mexican Artist Mónica Mayer will discuss feminist art from the 1970s onward, addressing both her own work and that of other artists, and the Asante Children’s Theatre will perform.

El Tendedero/The Clothesline is based on an art installation first presented by Mayer in Mexico City in 1978. The installation transforms a clothesline – a symbol of traditional feminine roles – into a forum for conversation on sexual violence against women. Participants are invited to anonymously answer one or more questions on pink postcards that are then hung on a clothesline. Postcards include such questions as “Have you ever experienced sexual violence or harassment? What happened?” and “Where do you feel safe? Why?”

El Tendedero/The Clothesline is designed to expose the extent to which women – regardless of race, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity – are assaulted and their voices suppressed in Indiana.

“Sexual assault affects all kinds of Hoosier women in every county of our state, and the consequences are enormous,” said Tracey Horth Krueger, chief executive officer of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault (ICESA). Those consequences reach beyond the victims themselves, affecting societies—and economies—at large. The National Institute for Justice estimates that sexual assaults cost the U.S. economy some $450 million a year. 

Nearly 100 Hoosiers have already written postcards describing their experiences with sexual assault. Women4Change Indiana and ICESA will collect the cards from women statewide and share them with lawmakers to illustrate the prevalence of sexual assault in Indiana.

“Our goal is to inspire women to learn who represents them in the Indiana General Assembly and then to engage with their representatives and encourage them to actively support initiatives to reduce and prevent sexual assault,” said Rima Shahid, executive director of Women4Change Indiana.

While elected officials are often reluctant to discuss issues related in any way to sex, the organizations behind El Tendedero/The Clothesline hope that the emotional impact of the clothesline installation and the power of individual stories will help lawmakers see that they need address this issue head-on. 

In addition to educating Hoosiers on the prevalence and nuances of sexual assault, the initiative will provide survivors who want to participate with the opportunity to share and/or witness stories of assault. Community resources and support services will be available at every event.

The Harrison Center for the Arts hosted a preview exhibition for El Tendedero/The Clothesline last November. Attendees of the First Friday art gallery openings were invited to complete a postcard and pin it to one of the clotheslines strung across the center’s gymnasium. 

“The response was powerful,” said Joanna Taft, executive director of the Harrison Center. “It was one of the quietest yet loudest exhibitions we’ve ever done.” 



A timeline of events to date is listed below, with full descriptions available at https://www.women4changeindiana.org/the-clothesline. Groups interested in joining the effort should email eltendederotheclothesline@gmail.com



Participating Organizations as of Sept. 25, 2019

More partners are being added daily. To inquire about participating, email eltendederotheclothesline@gmail.com.

Arts Council of Indianapolis and Gallery 924

Asante Children’s Theatre

Assent 121 

Cathead Press

Coalition of 100 Black Women

Coburn Place

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

Families First

Fonseca Theatre Company

Harrison Center for the Arts

Herron School of Art + Design

Hope Center

Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and survivors’ groups statewide

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and survivors’ groups statewide

Indiana Repertory Theatre

Indiana State Museum

Indiana Writers Center

Indianapolis Contemporary

Indianapolis Cultural Trail

Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Indianapolis Public Library

Indianapolis Women’s Chorus

Indy Reads Books

Julian Center

La Plaza

Latino Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Madam Walker Legacy Center

New Harmony Project

People for Urban Progress (PUP)

Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre

Spirituality & the Arts, IUPUI Arts & Humanities 

Summit Performance

Women4Change


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MEDIA CONTACT:  Jen Schmits Thomas, jen@jtprinc.com, 317-441-2487

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