Love should not be dangerous. Love should not be violent. Love should not be destructive. So why is it that one of every three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, often at the hands of people who claim to love us? This is a problem that affects all of us, whether woman are man, and whether we live in the United States, where yesterday 22 members of the Senate voted against passing the “Violence Against Women Act,” or in New Dehli, where a 23 year old physiotherapy intern (known as Nirbhaya, or fearless) was so brutally gang-raped that she lost 95% of her intestines.
In staging her play in locations across the globe, “The Vagina Monologues” author, Eve Ensler listened to countless stories by women who had survived abuse. She decided that enough was enough and established “One Billion Rising,” inviting people around the world to rise up this Valentine’s Day and take to the streets to dance as part of a global movement to end rape and sexual violence against women.
Today, one billion women (and men) from 199 countries around the globe will “Strike, Dance, Rise” to say “enough is enough!” Enough to rape, enough to genital mutilation, enough to not feeling safe in one’s own home due to intimate partner violence. This is only the beginning of a movement to create a world where every little girl is born into a world where, in the words of Ms. Ensler, she will be “cherished, safe, free and equal.”
So what happens tomorrow?
Perhaps we can begin by forgoing the small violences that we perpetrate against each other. How many times have you heard one woman make mean comments about another woman – her mode of dress, or her weight, or her “slutty” behavior? How many times have you made such comments yourself? How many times have you thought such comments about yourself?
While these comments may seem inconsequential, they contribute to a world where women become objects rather than human beings. And an object is an easy thing to abuse. In a world where women are expected to please, where we are always judged on our appearance, where we are never deemed to be enough “just as we are”, perhaps the next small step we can take in creating a world where as girls and women we are cherished, safe, free, and equal begins by showing our love to each other. And in that way, perhaps we also begin to show love to ourselves.
We’ll end with a video shot earlier today, in India, where the “New Light Girls” danced in honor of Nirbhaya, and the other one billion girls and women who have been survived gender-based violence. To see more “One Billion Rising” flash mob videos, click here.