For San Valentine, rise against gender violence!
Since 2012, 14th of February does not only mean Valentine’s Day: it is also one of the biggest mass action to end male violence against women: One Billion Rising! This event has been launched by Eve Ensler, the artist that created the Vagina Monologues and V-Day, an amazing worldwide creative movement aiming at ending violence against women and girls. It started as an invitation to one billion women to gather to public spaces to represent the one in three women who will be beaten and/or raped during their lifetime, according to the UN (source 1). Over one billion women responded to the call to dance, sing, strike and rise to collectively express their anger and their freedom, and to demand the elimination of violence against women. This global-local movement has achieved many successes so far. In 2016, the objective is to spark a real Revolution for leaders to address this issue!
One Billion Rising is a strong, powerful and symbolic campaign.
Just think of the day chosen, Valentine’s Day. While many couple will celebrate their love, other will tragically remember that being in couple can hurt. Partner violence is one of the most extended and serious forms of gender-based violence. It cannot be forgotten, especially on 14th of February.
Collectively taking the streets is also a powerful mean for women who experienced violence to heal, feel powerful and free to move everywhere they want. Indeed, everywhere, public spaces have been designed by and for men. Even today, women are victims of specific forms of violence when going to public spaces (street harassment, catcalls, etc.) that can concretely limit their right to move. By going to the street to collectively dance, sing, and express their feeling, women are reclaiming their right to use public spaces as much as men!
Finally, dancing to fight against such an extensive and devastating violence may seem a bit light. But let’s not forget that male violence against women is universal. Every woman, in every country, might suffer male abuses. “It’s our bodies that are violated. It’s our bodies that are politicized and subjected to laws about what we can or can’t cover or how we can or can’t reproduce or what our families should look like.
It’s our bodies that are blamed for the harm that comes to us, when we’re told that we were hurt because we’re too tempting, too sexual, too ugly, too loud, too easy, too feminine, too manly, too vulnerable.
It’s our bodies that too often feel like the enemy, when our own self-worth is worn down by cultural myths that we’re too fat, too dark, too poor, too awkward, too shy, too sexy, too female, too masculine, too strong, too weak, too big, too little.
And so it’s with our bodies that we should act. When our bodies have been politicized, targeted and defined for us, there’s power in the simple enjoyment of that body. When women are supposed to be small and inoffensive, taking up public space is a radical act. It’s unladylike. Dance, OBR reminds us, is both free and freeing.” (source 2)
Not yet convinced? Eve Ensler herself said:
“Dancing is defiance. It is joyous and raging. It is contagious and free and beyond corporate or state control. We have only begun to dance. This year we must continue to go much further. We must go all the way and make the change.” (source 3)
We, partners of the CARVE project, believe that male violence against women will be eliminated thanks to the multiple initiatives elaborated by politicians, NGOs, corporations and the civil society. This is why we are encouraging companies to commit to this cause by raising awareness on this issue and providing women who are/have been in a situation of gender-based violence with more solutions and support to recover. Altogether with our eight partners of this two-year project is co-financed by the ‘DG Justice: Daphne Programme’ of the European Commission, we are determined to provide companies with tools to deal with such a devastating issue.
The national seminars have been led in Bulgaria, Spain, France, Greece and Belgium. These events enabled us to present the outcomes of the national reports and to open a public debate. We are now elaborating a European Best Practice Guide for companies and politicians to achieve a better vision of the European situation regarding domestic violence in Europe, and the best ways to assist victims. It will be released during a European conference in Brussels on 16th of June 2016.
Picture: 450.OneBillionRising.FarragutSquare.WDC.14February2013, Elvert Barnes