One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That is one billion women — all of whom are daughters, mothers, wives, sisters, partners or grandmothers.
Yesterday was a day to be remembered – on this Valentine’s Day, women from around the globe took up the cause of ending sexual violence. From London to Los Angeles to Johannesburg, street exhibitions, dance performances and musical rallies were all held under the slogan “One Billion Rising.”
Thousands danced in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Philippines. San Francisco saw flash mobs that drew people with eye-catching outbursts of dance and theatrics. In Germany, events in 126 cities highlighted how sexual violence is dealt with in the criminal system; a parliamentary debate in the UK focused on sex and relationship education in schools. Hundreds of women and men marched through streets in Afghanistan. In Somalia, more than 300 women gathered in Wardhigley district, an area of Mogadishu governed by a woman, to dance and listen to poetry. About 600 people danced and sang in one of the five events in Egypt.
Urging people to join the One Billion Rising campaign, Indian musician Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the late sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, revealed in a video this week that she had been the victim of sexual violence.
As reported in the Huffington Post, Shankar stated “As a child I suffered sexual and emotional abuse for several years at the hands of a man my parents trusted implicitly,” she said. “Growing up like most women I know I suffered various forms of groping, touching and verbal abuse … that I didn’t know how to deal with. … And as a woman I find that I’m frequently living in fear, afraid to walk alone at night … and you know, enough is enough … so join me. Let’s rise together.”
Awareness raising initiatives, such as One Billion Rising, are essential. GWEN stands in solidarity with the men and women around the globe who are creating connections across demographic and organizational differences. February 14 was just be the beginning — it is only through a truly global, concerted effort that we can hope to end this violence and discrimination and achieve the change needed to ensure no girl growing up has to live in fear.
Tell Your Story on www.GWENNetwork.org and join the growing movement of women and men who are coming together to transform lives beyond abuse.
The Guardian, February 14, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/feb/14/one-billion-rising-action-worldwide
The Huffington Post, February 14, 2013,