by Allegra Silbiger, AWC Berlin member
When you bring consciousness to anything, things begin to shift.
We become immune. Overexposed to shocking statistics and imagery, we are no longer shocked. Overwhelmed by devastating truths, we shut down.
For those fortunate enough to live at a comfortable distance from violence, the numbers and statistics in the news detach from the human lives they represent. When individual stories, photographs, videos break through our defense lines without warning, we resent the intrusion.
But what happens when we become the numbers, when we invert the statistics?
What if we rise up and take action?
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013, people in over 200 countries around the world rose up for the first time together in protest, demanding an end to gender-based-violence. It was the 15th anniversary of the V-Day campaign to end violence against women and girls, and it was the culmination of a yearlong mobilization initiated by V-Day founder Eve Ensler.
One Billion Rising was and is the largest global action to end violence against women in history. At its heart is a devastating statistic:
One in three women worldwide will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime.
One in three. That comes to over one billion women beaten or raped.
The inaugural One Billion Rising in 2013 was a call to action, summoning women and men across the planet to react, to break the silence and refuse to passively accept the unacceptable status quo. One Billion Rising called on the world to take to the streets on one day, Valentine’s Day, V-Day, to do something radical: Strike, rise, dance! It was an invitation to express outrage through positive movement. Eve Ensler explained the revolutionary nature of dancing in the face of violence:
Dancing insists we take up space, and though it has no set direction, we go there together. Dance is dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive, and contagious and it breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere, at anytime, with anyone and everyone, and it’s free. Dance joins us and pushes us to go further and that is why it’s at the center of One Billion Rising.
At the heart of One Billion Rising in 2013 was a bold statement:
One billion women violated is an atrocity.
One billion women dancing is a revolution.
Around the globe, countless grassroots groups formed, eager to be counted among the empowered one billion. Volunteers met, dedicating endless hours to planning and organizing demonstrations. The message was infectious, reaching some of the highest levels of government, mobilizing politicians to come out in support of the campaign, both with policy demands and with physical and personal participation.
Tens of thousands of events took place on February 14th, 2013. There were powerful community marches and rallies, performances, debates, human chains, and ritual ceremonies of all kinds. But most of all, there was dancing. Voices were raised, bodies moved. Taboos were broken, and new energy was released, a force that continues to animate each new incarnation of the campaign in the years that have followed.
Since its first year, One Billion Rising has remained true to its origins, adding a thematic focus each year. In 2014, One Billion Rising for Justice invited survivors of violence to seek justice, and it demanded an examination of the injustices that factor into and result in gender-based violence. In 2015 and 2016, the movement escalated to Rise for Revolution, and in 2017, the focus of that revolution will be solidarity against the exploitation of women and girls.
We have reached the last day of our challenge to 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The end of every action, every campaign, must spark the beginning of the next. Because we will not be satisfied until there is truly an end to the violence. Let the numbers touch you again and again. Let them have faces and names and let them move you to take action.
Day 16 – CALL TO ACTION:
- Read more about One Billion Rising: http://www.onebillionrising.org/
- Watch this video about One Billion Rising: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YS8NIBc-z0
- Read more about V-Day: http://www.vday.org/
- Read more and get involved in Berlin’s largest One Billion Rising demonstration: http://www.centre-talma.de/
- Join the AWC’s V-Day Berlin 2017 benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues to raise funds and awareness about gender-based violence. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Find out more, and support institutions locally, nationally, and internationally. Consider offering your time or financial support.
Interkulturelle Initiative e.V., Shelter, counseling and advocacy for abused women and their children: http://www.interkulturelle-initiative.de/
Papatya, Anonymous crisis shelter for girls and young women with a migration background: http://www.papatya.org/en/index-en.html
B.I.G., Berlin initiative against violence towards women: http://www.big-prävention.de/node/269
LARA, Rape Crisis and Counseling Center: http://www.lara-berlin.de/index.php?id=21&L=6
The AWC Berlin participates in the 16-Day-Campaign against Gender-Based-Violence. Each day, we highlight an aspect of GBV to raise awareness and call on our membership to take one small action to fight against violence against women.