EWL press coverage

One Billion Rising A global movement to end violence against women

Cities across Belgium will unite with 190 other countries on Valentine’s Day to stand against violence against women. The action One Billion Rising was created by Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, which is traditionally performed in February across the globe to call attention to women’s rights.

According to the United Nations, one in three women – or one billion – will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. This statistic inspired the worldwide action, which will find women and men dancing in city centres to show their communities it’s time to change this unnerving reality.

“I think we hear a lot of stories about women being raped or beaten abroad, and those are awful stories, but in Belgium, there are injustices toward women locally, and we need to have an open discussion about it,” says Karolien Coussement, organiser of One Billion Rising Ghent.

Ensler launched One Billion Rising (OBR) for the 15th anniversary of V-Day, a global campaign to end abuse against women, which coincides with Valentine’s Day. Since 1998, the V-Day movement has raised some €66 million for anti-violence programmes and education.

Ensler spoke at the European Parliament in Brussels last week. “May this global wind galvanise and support the efforts of these dedicated MEPs who have been pressing on all fronts for a new mindset and an end to rape, battery, female genital mutilation, trafficking, incest and all forms of violence,” she said.

Multiple groups are hosting free OBR events on 14 February in Brussels and across Flanders – all open to the public.

Brussels • Muntplein • 17.30

The European Women’s Lobby and other NGOs host this event, featuring a flash mob, followed by free-style dancing. Those who want to participate in the flash mob can learn the moves from a video posted on the “One Billion Rising Brussels Europe” Facebook page.

Following this, a second group, Hollaback! Brussels, will join together at 18.30 on Beursplein. They will form a circle to share ideas about how to end violence before dancing. The group also will have a short “chalk walk” where women will reclaim the point on a street where they were harassed. Hollaback! is an international organisation promoting the end of harassment on the street. “When you want to cite violence against women, you have to cite the little violence, and that’s street violence,” says Hollaback! Brussels co-founder Angelika Hild.

Brussels activities will conclude with an after-party hosted by the @seven international community where OBR participants can continue dancing from 19.00 until the early hours at the Hotel Aloft Brussels.

Antwerp • Groenplaats • 11.00

An Thys, a psychotherapist organising OBR Antwerp, says she’s seen several women dealing with abuse. “I can confirm that the women in Belgium keep it from their families and friends,” says Thys. “We live in a culture where we don’t talk about these things.” Professional dancers will help motivate Antwerp participants.

Ghent • Shopping Centre Gent Zuid • 16.30

A flash mob will commence OBR Ghent; a link to the dance moves is on the Facebook page. Anyone wishing to have extra help can attend a practice session at 16.00 on 8 February at Basic-Fit on Korenmarkt. An after-party follows the main event on 14 February with DJs and live performances at 20.00 at JH Den Kelder.

Angela Chambers
(February 6, 2013)

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