Thu, Feb 16, 2012 - Page 7 News List

V-Day aims to get 1 billion people to cavort for peace


Eve Ensler wants 1 billion people around the globe to stand together against violence. Actually, she wants them to do more than stand: She wants them to dance.

The Vagina Monologues author says more needs to be done to change attitudes and realities when it comes to violence against women and girls around the world. She cites a UN statistic that says one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. On a planet with 7 billion people, that’s more than 1 billion women.

V-Day, the anti-violence movement Ensler founded 14 years ago, is launching a yearlong initiative on Tuesday. “One Billion Rising” encourages people worldwide to walk out of work, school or wherever they are next Valentine’s Day and dance together in solidarity against violence.

“If a billion women walked out of their jobs, walked out of their homes and stopped and said we’re going to dance, and all the people who loved them joined them? The world will stop,” Ensler said in a telephone interview from Sydney. “And we’ll see our solidarity, we’ll see our numbers, we’ll see our power and we’ll see the magnitude of this issue.”

Stopping violence against women “is as crucial as addressing the issues of disease, hunger, and climate change,” she said.

V-Day, which raises funds and awareness to end gender-based violence and harassment around the world, is announcing the campaign around the world with grassroots events at thousands of school campuses and community centers, Ensler said. It is her hope that neighborhoods and organizations come together to address the issues facing women and girls in their communities, “so when they get to the dancing part, they know what they’re dancing for.”

The global dance-in on Feb. 14 next year will be significant because “when you dance, you take up space,” Ensler said. “And part of it is just saying women have a right to ... be here without worrying about being attacked or harassed or raped or undone.”

Asked if she really expects to see 1 billion people participate, Ensler replied: “That’s our dream.”

“We plan to reach out to all the networks that V-Day has in 140 countries and the 13,000 beneficiary groups around the world as well as social networks,” she said. “What we’re calling for is 1 billion rising in the belief that it is possible.”

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