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02/13/2013

One Billion Rising campaign hopes to end violence against women

Eve Ensler
American Eve Ensler, centre, gestures as she joins others to launch the "One Billion Rising Philippines" campaign in Manila, Philippines on Dec. 19, 2012. The event is a global campaign to stop violence against women. (Aaron Favila/AP)

The UN says one in three females will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, or one billion women. Tomorrow's One Billion Rising campaign, spearheaded by Eve Ensler of Vagina Monologues fame is built around that statistic. In nearly 200 countries a series of events ranging from flash mobs, to dance troupes, to candle marches will be held to highlight violence against women. 

"We will come to know that ending violence against women is as important as ending poverty, or AIDS or global warming. We will come to see that it is not a local issue or particular to any culture or religion or village or age," the campaign's website says.  

In some countries the protests will have particular importance.  

In India where five men are on trial for the brutal rape of a young woman on a bus,  the movement wants to "reclaim" the streets for women, Kamla Bhasin, the South Asia coordinator for the campaign, told the New York Times. “This is a new struggle for freedom. Freedom from patriarchal mindsets, patriarchal families and patriarchal religious traditions.” 

To raise awareness for the campaign singer Anoushka Shankar daughter of the late musician Ravi Shankar said in a Youtube video that she had been sexually abused as a child by a man her parents trusted. 

In Egypt where women are now routinely sexually assaulted in Cairo's Tahrir Square, women and men have organized an evening of dancing and music in the capital. In Ireland where women are stepping up the fight to change abortion laws after the death of a pregnant woman who was refused an abortion, a Facebook campaign is organizing flash mobs in front of courthouses, streets, and food markets.   

Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at The Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour 

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