By Tererai Karimakwenda
11 January 2013
11 January 2013
A global campaign linked to Valentines’ Day has been launched to help end violence against women, after statistics showed that one in every three women will suffer some form of violence in their lifetime.
The world has a total female population of about 3.5 billion, so at least one billion of them will be the victim of physical violence in their lives. The global campaign, called One Billion Rising, refers to that figure and hopes to involve everyone who cares to do something on Valentines’ Day.
Activist Rumbidzai Dube, from the Research and Advocacy Unit and a legal advisor for the women’s online portal HER ZIMBABWE, said Valentines’ Day was chosen because it is a time to show love and compassion and these values should be present in relationships.
“Zimbabwe is a very patriarchal society and women are not treated very well. One of the challenges is violence, and political violence is also a serious problem around elections. It doesn’t know about age, color, status or economic background. You can be a child, teenager or adult,” Dube told SW Radio Africa.
She said the idea is for people to help the campaign in any way they can, by organizing events, building shelters for victims or even just writing a blog to highlight the crisis. Protecting a child or walking away from an abusive relationship is also a way to end violence.
According to Dube, the global campaign this year also involves dancing on Valentines’ Day, because this is one way that women can reclaim ownership of their bodies and is an easy thing to do. Events with music and dancing are taking place worldwide on February 14th.
According to the Research and Advocacy Unit, 2,400 children were raped in Zimbabwe in the last 10 months. Dube said this is one of the reasons HER ZIMBABWE has partnered with the One Billion Rising campaign, which was the brainchild of Eve Ensler, an American activist and award-winning playwright.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has come out in support of the One Billion Rising campaign and actors and V-Day board members Jane Fonda, Rosario Dawson, Donna Karan, Thandie Newton, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, along with Farhan Akhtar, Javed Akhtar, Jessica Alba, Habana Azmi, Kamla Bhasin, Rahul Bose, Connie Britton, Kate Clinton, Nandita Das, Longiuns Ernandez, Anne Hathaway, Rosie Huntington–Whitely, Kaizaad Kotwal, Zoe Kravitz, Jennifer Lawrence, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, Dylan McDermott, Yoko Ono, Robert Redford, Mallika Sarabhai, Aparna Sen, Dr. Nandita Shah, Elizabeth Sombart, Sakshi Tanwar, Dolly Thakore, Lily Tomlin, Usha Uthup, and others, are activating their networks to spread the word.
Ensler continues her multi-continent tour this week with stops in India and Bangladesh. Ensler will meet with women’s and activist groups to discuss planned demonstrations and will speak, along with other notable Indian figures, about ending the culture of rape and violence.
Kamla Bhasin, co-founder of Sangat, a South Asian feminist network, and One Billion Rising South Asia coordinator, stated, “One Billion Rising is a feminist tsunami; we are seeing a renewed energy for change throughout India and South Asia. The protests in India this time have created some hope. Violence against women is no more an issue for the women's movement, many others are now owning it.”
Indian philosopher, activist, and author Vandana Shiva wrote a column for the One Billion Rising article series which launches today on Huffington Post. In it she writes, “The victim of the Delhi gang rape has triggered a social revolution. We must sustain it, deepen it, and expand it. We must demand and get speedy and effective justice for women. And while we do all this we need to change the ruling paradigm which is imposed on us in the name of‘growth,’ and which is fueling increasing crimes against women. Ending violence against women includes moving beyond the violent economy shaped by capitalist patriarchy to non-violent peaceful, economies which give respect to women and the Earth.” www.vday.org