One Billion Rises at ODU
Valentine’s Day saw more than cards and candy as Old Dominion University students and volunteers with the Women’s Center gathered on the quad late in the afternoon on Friday to dance.
The international movement to end violence against women, V-Day, held its part-awareness-campaign, part-flash mob, part-worldwide dance party “One Billion Rising” to bring attention to the global epidemic of sexual assault and abuse.
According to the campaigns website, events were held in as many as 207 countries over 48 hours.
“We are rising with women around the world today to demand justice and an end to violence against women which diminishes human potential,” said Wendi White, Women’s Center Prevention Education Coordinator, who opened the event.
“Have a great time dancing! And let’s make violence against women history,” she yelled to a, small but enthusiastically cheering crowd as the DJ cued Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
The campaign itself is named for the estimated one billion victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse. That comes out to about one in three women.
“In the us national college community, the statistic is [that] one in five will experience sexual assault during their college years. It’s the highest risk time of their life… ODU is no different than any other campus,” White said.
“If you thought that your sister had a one in five chance of getting hit by a bus, you would most likely not want her to be in that situation. This is unacceptable and we need to address and end the violence that is going on against women, both here nationally, and internationally.”
The organizers of the event had tables set up and encouraged participants to take shirts, pins and pamphlets, as well as sign a letter to their congressional representatives asking them to support the International Violence Against Women Act.
The act would strengthen and encourage equal rights, education, economic growth, legal reforms and programs for victims of violence, according to Women’s Center volunteer, Natalie Buehler.
“Internationally, more needs to be done, and the United States can play a leadership role in that. We are obviously an international leader; we provide aid and military support to many countries so we can require that our partnerships require human rights for women in the countries that we work with,” she said.
Participants included women and girls from many different age groups and walks of life, as well as a number of men.
“The reason why [it’s important for men to get involved in women’s issues] is we lead as examples for our younger peers, our children, our kids, and our actions have important connection to the future,” explained event volunteer, Wes Bernadel. “So if we support women that we’re with, I think it’s a better place for women and men.”
By Sean Davis