One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, according to One Billion Rising. Including all forms of physical or sexual abuse, UN Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark claims that 60% of women around the world will be abused, and as many as half of all sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16. That is more than one billion women and girls — mothers, daughters, sisters, and neighbors — who are survivors of abuse.
Armed with these statistics from the United Nations, One Billion Rising aims to inspire one billion women and their supporters to walk out, dance, rise up, and resist the status quo that upholds rape culture as a norm. They advocate ending a culture in which sexual violence is tolerated and perceived as an inevitable aspect of a woman’s experience, and demand an end to gender violence.
One Billion Rising forwards an argument that is hard to dispute: Violence against women occurs at epidemic rates across the globe, so why don't we focus our energies for one day to raise money and awareness for the eventual goal of eradicating gender violence?
So here are some things you should know about this year's strike:
The theme is dancing.
Eve Ensler, most famous for producing and performing The Vagina Monologues is one of the primary organizers for the event. She sees dance as holy, sexual and "a way of being very powerful and a little dangerous without being violent." Psychology Today goes on to explain that "using dance as the expressive outlet, brings attention to the healing power of moving with one another front and center." Art can be activist.
We are looking at a movement that places survivors of sexual assault in positions of power to move, to heal, and to call upon the rest of their community members for support and solidarity.
But there's more to it than just dancing.
While the strike calls upon community members to perform The Vagina Monologues, and organize fundraisers, dance parties, and flash mobs, it also calls upon politicians and entreprenuers to use their positions in their communities to spread awareness. For school teachers, they recommend reserving the day for discussions of sexual assault in the classroom and workshops.
One Billion Rising just wants you to do something. And if you decide to do something out of the ordinary that's specific for your community, you should let Ensler know. She would love to hear about it.
One Billion Rising occurs on Valentines Day for a reason.
The holiday is the perfect day to stress how most of these acts of sexual violence occur between individuals who are intimate, who know each other, and who are friends or colleagues. The Center for Disease Control stated in a 2010 report that one in four women in the U.S. "has been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in her lifetime."
Not to rain on anyone's love parade, but One Billion Rising has a good strategy. What other time of the year do you have everyone’s attention on love so that you can make the statistics on intimate partner violence most shocking? After all, Valentine's Day is the day when love puts its best foot forward, concealing its ugly underside of gender violence.
After all, Ensler came up with the protest because of the mass number of women who shared their stories of assault after her performances of Vagina Monologues.
One Billion Rising is the most ambitious project and marketing campaign for what is more commonly known as V-day, which began in 1998, two years after the debut of The Vagina Monologues.
The "V" in V-Day stands for victory, valentine and vagina.
If you want to see if there's a V-day strike happening anywhere near you, check out this handy-dandy map.
This movement, which has attracted more than a thousand organizations and communities in over fifty countries, could not come at a better time given that Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act by a 78 to 22 vote earlier this week. Hopefully, this movement shakes up the House into passing the Act as well.