Seattle rises up in global event to end violence against women

  • “I’m dancin’ for my sisters,” says Donna Hertel. (Photo by Colleen McDevitt)
  • Asha Mohame (left) dances with her son Amen Hassan and daughter Khadijah Hassan. “We are from Somalia,” says Asha. “We are here because there is a living, silent violence against women, everywhere.” (Photo by Colleen McDevitt)
  • Participants free dance in between performers. (Photo by Colleen McDevitt)
  • When asked why she dances, Aurora, 10, told the crowd, “I can get my emotions out whenever I want.” (Photo by Colleen McDevitt)
  • A Native American and Alaska Native group performs a Women Warrior Dance (Photo by Colleen McDevitt)
  • Participants free dance in between performers. (Photo by Colleen McDevitt)
  • “Blessed be, blessed be…” the crowd sings together, calling on the Divine Feminine during the opening Dance of Universal Peace. (Photo by Colleen McDevitt)
  • The crowd joins hands for the Dance of Universal Peace. (Photo by Colleen McDevitt)

 

(Photos by Colleen McDevitt. Click for captions/larger images)

With two left feet, I joined the One Billion Rising flash mob yesterday in Westlake Center. And around the world, more than 201 countries were dancing with me, all with common purpose of ending violence against women. 

The global event was prompted by Vagina Monologues writer, Eve Ensler, and references the staggering statistic from that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime.  

One Billion Rising gave us one way to approach an issue that makes hearts heavy. I still tremble when reading the graphic details of the gang rape & death of the 23-year-old student from New Dehli.

However, I feel I must follow the story, out of respect to her memory and the many others that go untold (like the mysterious death of overseas Filipina worker Terril Atienza.)

Yet, demonstrations and choreology are just the beginning, tactics to grab attention and stir up the masses. It cannot stop there. The next step to fighting violence against women is looking at systems in place perpetuating it and challenging them one by one.

Around the world, governments are failing to protect women from violence as we continue to see high rates of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault. In our own backyard, the reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is being lingering in Congress for months.

Since its enactment in 1994, the VAWA has increased protections for survivors in the US.

“While politicians continue to play political games with the VAWA, it is the lives of these women that continue to be at risk every day,” says Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA-USA.

As part of their i-VOW to end Violence Against Women Campaign, GABRIELA connects state repression and US militarism to fostering an environment for accelerated occurrences of human trafficking and sexual assault.

Policies such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) reinforce violence towards women by protecting the perpetrators. A high-profiled occurrence was the Subic Bay Rape Case in 2006, where four US marines were charged by the Filipino government for gang-raping a woman, but with the VFA they were allowed to return to the US and were acquitted.

A culture shift needs to happen as well. Misogynistic and repressive messages are so engraved in daily practices and mainstream media, that people may not even notice the nuances that support rape culture and violence-glorification.

I believe we need to confront what is at the root of this – patriarchy and conforming gender roles – if there is to be true liberation for everyone.

V-day has passed, but there will be more “Risings” to fight violence against women.

On February 16th, Pin@y sa Seattle will lead a community workshop on i-Vow from 2-4pm, and then host MELANIN, a benefit dance party for women, queer and trans folks of color, that night 8pm-midnight.

Both events are free with sliding scale donations and open to all allies and supporters.

Jill Mangaliman is a queer, Filipino American community organizer and writer from Seattle. They use gender neutral pronouns. Jill is the executive director of local grassroots environmental justice organization, Got Green, and a member of GABRIELA Seattle, working to advance the struggle of women in the overall movement for national liberation and genuine democracy in the Philippines. They are the winner of the Globalist's 2013 Social Change Reporting award, as well as a lover of karaoke and making things happen.

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