Rise up to stop violence against women: Support V-Day Rising!

V-Day Rising is a national movement to bring attention to the one in three women and girls that will be raped, beaten or killed in their lifetime, totaling one billion women and girls. The ‘V’ in V-Day represents three things: Valentine, Victory and Vagina.  V-Day to end violence is a global campaign in 167 countries that seeks to bring awareness to the crippling pattern of violence against women. Women make up more than half of the world’s population—they are mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and wives—and yet women’s issues continue to be treated as a minority issue.

This February 14th, V-Day is holding its largest campaign to date: One Billion Rising. In order to honor the one billion women that will experience violence in her lifetime, ONE BILLION RISING is “inviting one billion women and those that love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP and DEMAND (sic) an end to this violence” (V-Day to end violence). This is a global crisis and the longer we wait the worse it gets.

Some statistics to consider: 22 million women in the United States have been raped and one out of every five American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Every 15 seconds a woman in the United States is battered. There are 60 million “missing” girls worldwide, as a result of sex-selective abortions, infanticide or neglect. There are at least four million women and girls trafficked per year.. As of the year 2000, 90 million women and girls have been the victims of female genital mutilation and there are varying degrees by country and the ever present statistic…one in three women will be raped, beaten or killed in her lifetime.

The V-day movement is most well known for The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler, but it has grassroots organizations across a number of countries and regions: all of North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and South Asia.  One of the largest movements, “Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource: Power to Women and Girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo” was inspired by Ensler’s visits in 2006 and 2007 to speak with Dr. Denis Mukwege, head of the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, and explore the conditions women experience. Upon a UNICEF invitation, Ensler and Dr. Mukwege met to format a five-year education and movement for change. This collaboration between V-Day, UNICEF and UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict enabled the formation and launch of “Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource” in August 2007.

South Asia is one of the hardest hit regions for violence against women, with an estimated 200 million girls missing. The region’s leaders have been coming together to dually bring attention to the cause and find the best ways to prevent and rectify this disaster. Notably, in 2008, Nepal-based South Asia Partnership International held a three-day conference where participants “explored laws, policies and provisions for creating a congenial environment for women’s participation in politics” (OneWorld South Asia).

Organizations all over the globe support this movement, including many Muslim organizations and organizations from predominantly-Muslim countries. A brief list includes: Afghan Women’s Fund, many branches of Amnesty International, Asian Women’s Human Rights Coalition, Moruya Women’s Rescue, National Alliance for Human Rights and Social Justice, Nepal Muslim Women Welfare Society, Pakistan Peace Coalition, and many more. It can be seen that this is not a problem for any one political, religious or social affiliation, it is a problem that can only be solved with the force and cooperation of the entire world.

Anyone one can rise and in support of this- a number of celebrities have lent their voices to the along with their personal explanations of what draws them to the cause.

Actor and activist, Rosario Dawson, is one of the countless celebrities who have joined the One Billion Rising campaign.

As for me, I’m rising because I’m over it. I’m over the onslaught of women on the news, the lack of concern for rape victims, the millions of missing girls, domestic violence and the silent fear that haunts every woman and girl as she walks home alone. It is time to stand up and demand that the situation changes.

The work that the V-Day organization has done so far is outstanding. They have brought attention to prevalence of female oppression worldwide and helped to form and support grassroots organizations to remedy the situation. However, it is not enough. It will never be enough until every woman and girl worldwide can live her life without fear of victimization because of her gender. Men, women and children must come together and rise up against this epidemic.

So, this February 14, 2013 and every day take stock of all the rights that you are blessed to have and WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP and DEMAND that every single woman and girl is granted the full human dignity and safety that she deserves.