LONDON - From Manila to Delhi, millions of people around the world took to the streets on February 14 for One Billion Rising, the international movement demanding an end to violence towards women.
In London, hundreds of people danced, chanted and spoke publicly across the capital, including the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, and Hayward Gallery, where representatives from Justice for Domestics Workers (J4DW) shared their plight alongside feminist artists.
“It’s very important to me because I am a woman, and I want to show support to victims of violence towards women,” said Ida Estioko, a Filipina librarian who came out to join the cause in the main protest at Parliament Square, at the doorstep of UK government offices.
Speaking to ABS-CBN Europe, she added: “I am rising here today to support all the movements worldwide against violence to women. It is important to me because even in the Philippines, there are lots of violence towards women.”
Stars from the worlds of film, television and stage also joined the campaign. From comedian Ruby Wax to X-Factor finalist Jermaine Douglas, celebrities each took turns to speak to a crowd of campaigners through a megaphone, demanding better rights for women.
Hollywood actress Thandie Newton, who has been the face of the campaign in the UK, also performed a rousing monologue written by Eve Ensler, the founder of V-Day and One Billion Rising.
Newton, who starred in Oscar-winning film “Crash”, joined dozens of people from different backgrounds to perform at a flashmob of the movement’s official song and dance, “Break The Chain,” written by Tena Clarke and Tim Heintz, with choreography by Debbie Allen.
British politicians from different parties also showed a united front, vowing to put sexual and relationship education at the top of their agenda with a new bill currently up for debate at the House of Commons.
“We can prevent violence against women, not just to deal with the perpetrators, but to actually make the next generation of women safe,” said one Member of Parliament addressing campaigners outside Westminster Palace.
The role of media was also put to the spotlight. In front of members of the press, one speaker said: “As well as education in our schools, we also need the media to stop their relentless objectification of women. Because what that does is build a culture of normalization and we are hear to say that there is nothing normal about violence against women or girls.”
In Barcelona, campaigners from all ages and ethnicities came together to dance at the Plaza de la Catedral, performing ballet, traditional Indian folk dance, and even Spanish dance Sevillana.
Spain has been experiencing one of its worst economic crises, and women have become the face of unemployment in the country.
For those who are fortunate to remain in employment, it is estimated that as much as 15% will suffer some form of sexual harassment at work.
“One of the problems of the crisis is that the women wait more to denounce. The people who work with battered women are saying that the problem is that the women now wait much more longer to ask for help,” revealed Zaida Muxi Martinez from Collectiu Punt 6, a collective of female architects, urban planners and activists working against gender discrimination.
According to the United Nations, an estimated one billion women, and rising, are in danger of physical and sexual abuse around the world.
One Billion Rising, spearheaded by Ensler and her V-Day campaign, aims to reverse this trend by raising awareness of the relevant issues.
Campaigners are demanding an end to abuses towards women with a shift in social attitudes towards sex and violence, through better education, equal legislation, government initiatives, and a positive use of the media. With report from Daniel Infante Tuano, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, Barcelona