According to an estimate by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, at least one of every three women globally will be beaten, raped, or otherwise abused during her lifetime. In most cases, the abuser is a member of her own family.
If we take the UN estimate into account, the statistics apparently point out that one billion women in the world, at some point of time have faced some form of anger, intimidation, and revenge from their male counterparts.
Recently, incidents of violence against women have found enormous focus in media, and the horrific acts of violence against women and girls have been reported from all corners of the world, including the brutal gang rape of a girl in Delhi and the rape and murder of a teenage girl in South Africa.
Although stories of rape and torture found their fair share in news, media and social networking sites, yet violence against women remains very much a silent epidemic across the world. Sexual violence remains one of the most underreported crimes.
The then question arises: Aren’t women doing anything to reject violence as part of global culture?
This year, Feb. 14 will not be celebrated as just another Valentine’s Day. Eve Ensler has sounded the beagle of One Billion Rising; women from world over will strike, dance and rise in protest of violence against women and girls.
The global event is expected to involve women-centered organizations, elected representatives, legal luminaries, actors, artists, NGOs and academic institutions, as well as from individuals from from about 200 countries across the globe.
The call by Ensler, the author of “The Vagina Monologues,” is a proclamation that women may not have the power of words to stop violence. But this year, the language of protest is going to be expressive and loud. Dance troupes are expected to claim the streets and public places around the world.
Ensler’s gesture to unite the women on a global scale would be a clarion call proclaiming that a female body is far more than an object of assault and rape. The intent is to dance together and instil hope that violence against women will become an exception than a rule.
In India, after the horrific Dec. 16 gang rape and continuous cases of gang rapes hogging media headlines, there is a deep sense of outrage. One Billion Rising provides an opportunity for Indian women to continue the movement to demand safety and security for women.
In New Delhi, the capital of India, the issue of rape and violence against women remains raw, and the issue of violence against women continue to dominate public discussions and debate for nearly two months.
The trial of the five men accused of rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student is being watched closely, and Ensler’s global campaign against violence gives the women of Delhi a chance to proclaim freedom from patriarchal mindsets, patriarchal families and patriarchal religious traditions.
Kamla Bhasin, the South Asia coordinator for the campaign in India, intends to use One Billion Rising to shift the focus from the lapses of the state to individuals who can force change in their homes, communities and families. According to Bhasin, “Governments don’t rape; people do. We should ask: What are we as a society doing to our girls and women?”
Similar to millions of women from all corners of the globe, Anoushka Shankar, daughter of legendary musician Ravi Shankar, voices her fears as a woman. On the eve of the global rising, Anoushka says that that she suffered sexual and emotional abuse for several years at the hands of a man her parents trusted implicitly.
Perhaps Anoushka Shankar’s tragic revelation of abuse will find resonance in every women fighting for self respect and dignity. Anoushka’s voice in India will surely strike a chord with women from the rest of the world, increasing dignity and self-respect. One Billion Rising definitely finds confirmation in her words:
“As a woman I find I am frequently living in fear. Afraid to walk alone at night, afraid to answer a man who asks for the time ... and enough is enough. I am rising, for (the Delhi rape victim) and women like her. I am rising with the amazing women of my country. I am rising for the child in me, who I don't think will ever forgive and recover from what happened to her.
So, join me, let's rise, let's dance. Dance has the power to heal, to transform. So let's transform ourselves and this world. Let's rise together."
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