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
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
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