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Dance protest takes to the streets

01 March 2013


Voicing it: some of people, est­imated in the millions, who partici­pated in the One Billion Rising global campaign, around 14 February, against violence towards wo­men and girls; in London. . .

Voicing it: some of people, est­imated in the millions, who partici­pated in the One Billion Rising global campaign, around 14 February, again...

IN THE Philippines, the streets were closed for a 24-hour-long dance concert. In Peru, female prisoners in Santa Monica, Lima, staged a choreographed routine. In Cape Town, a dawn ceremony was held on Table Mountain. Across the globe, a mass uprising of dancers protested on St Valentine's Day against violence against women and girls.

The One Billion Rising movement was launched last year as a response to statistics from the United Nations suggesting that one in three women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. It was orchestrated by V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. This was founded by the playwright Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues.

Activists in more 203 countries took part, and there were 160 events in the UK. In Oxford, a flashmob of 80 danced to the movement's official song, "Break the Chain", watched by 500 people. The Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, then ad- dressed an event at New Road Baptist Church.

Dr Sarah Apetrei, a lecturer in ecclesiastical history at the University of Oxford, who led efforts in the city, said last week that she had been "deeply moved by the whole groundswell of protest following the Delhi gang rape" (News, 11 January). In organising the event, she had experienced "both hugely warm support and some hostility from those within the Church . . . who are fearful and suspicious and sceptical of something like this". Some had regarded the movement as "associated with the pro-abortion agenda. The conservative elements within the Church will almost see it as a stalking horse for a totalising feminist agenda."

Bishop Fletcher said that he had joined the event "because Jesus went out of his way to honour women in a society that often treated them as second-class. Despite the background of rape, abuse, and exploita- tion, in this country and around the world, it was good to stand with other religious and political leaders in Oxfordshire to unite in a common cause for humanity."

In Manchester, the Break the Chain dance was performed by about 100 people dressed in blue. Lizzie Gawen, a rape survivor who co-ordinated the action, said that the dresses were "inspired by the Madonna, as we want to celebrate the holiness and sacredness of women and their bodies".

In the House of Commons, MPs approved, without a vote, a call on the Government to support an end to violence against women and girls "by introducing statutory provisions to make personal, social, and health education, including a zero-tolerance approach to violence and abuse in relationships, a requirement in schools".

The Labour MP Gavin Shuker said that "deep moral and ethical questions are related to issues such as the scale of abortion in this country, but to deny young people the education and the capacity to prevent themselves from finding themselves in that situation in the first place is a perverse outcome of that belief."

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