Time For a Riot

One Billion Rising is a global campaign against sexual violence that takes place on Valentine’s day 2013. 

In 160 countries activists, thinkers, writers and those in the public eye will come together to make a stand in defiance against the mental and physical abuse of women. It’s timely given the recent rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old student in Delhi, and the publication of the Savile Report showing that Jim Fixed It for several decades, abusing his power and position to get his sexual kicks. Keir Starmer, director of public prosecutions said the report ‘must be a watershed moment’ and let’s hope it is. 

Last week also saw the first joint overview of sexual offending in England and Wales from the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and Office of National Statistics. Nearly one in five women report that they have been a victim of sexual offending since the age of 16. There are 473,000 adult victims of sexual crimes each year, many involving unwanted touching and flashing and include 60,000-95,000 victims of rape. Unfortunately only a small percentage of sexual offences lead to a conviction. 

Statistical analysis shows that rape and other offences are also under-reported to the police in comparison to other crimes. Only 15% of women said they reported it to the police citing the following reasons: ’embarrassment’, ‘didn’t think the police could do much to help’, ‘too trivial/not worth reporting’ and ‘private/family matter’. 

I’ve been flashed twice and never reported either incident for much the same reason – too trivial and no evidence (no camera phones then). It shook me up though and I avoided taking that route home from then on. I did report a group of men who harassed me on the train home from London recently. One turned out to be a policeman and they were kicked off at Tonbridge and given a telling off I presume. 

Studies also show it takes longer to complete a rape case than other criminal cases, on average 675 days from the date of the offence to case completion. Why so long? Can we not speed this process up?

Yvette Cooper MP, Minister for Women and Equality was quoted in the press saying the dreadful figures showed ‘national action is desperately needed to tackle sexual violence. ‘More action is needed by the government, police, prosecutors, courts, councils and communities to deal with these horrible crimes and keep people safe.’ 

We spoke to Eve Ensler, founder of V-day, for an update:

RM: Tell us a bit more about your hopes for the campaign. Why dancing as a form of expression?

EE: When we started V-day 14 years ago, we had the outrageous idea that we could end violence against women. One Billion Rising is an appreciation, amplification and an escalation. When one billion bodies rise and dance on February 14th 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness. Dancing insists we take up space. It has no set direction but we go there together. It’s dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone and everyone. It’s free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further. It’s contagious and it spreads quickly. It’s of the body. It’s transcendent. 

RM: Why One Billion? 

EE: We launched early 2012 as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that one in three women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7bn, this adds up to to more than 1bn women and girls. On February 14th [men and women] across the land will come together to express their outrage, strike, dance and rise in defiance of the injustices women suffer and demand an end to the violence. 

RM: Is there a special focus on India in light of the recent events there? 

EE: Following the horrific gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a Delhi bus and her subsequent death from injuries incurred by the brutal attack, we will meet with women’s and activist groups there to discuss planned demos and will speak, along with other notable Indian figures, about ending the culture of rape and violence. 

RM: How can men get involved and show their support? 

EE: 1BR is gaining momentum on social media – the hashtag #1billionrising has become widely used and just this week #MenRise was created by activists in connection with the campaign as men across the world participate and join One Billion Rising. 

RM: How can we get involved?

EE: The new 1BR website will feature activist videos, daily news updates and photos, info on joining the campaign and more. Individuals and organisations can get involved by: 

  • Visiting www.onebillionrising.org to find out about events and get the latest news. 
  • Following V-Day on Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Sharing it with your networks. 
  • Signing up for text message updates. 
  • View the short film, www.vday.org/shortfilm and share it. 
  • Filming your own video and uploading it to the website. 
My local women’s group, Hastings Women’s Voice, has organised a flashmob in Hastings town centre outside Caffe Nero at 5.30pm. They will be dancing to ‘Break the Chain’ and are having rehearsals in the run up to it.
More details and how to sign up here and on Facebook.


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