“Listen. Act. Rise.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – On Feb. 14, Valentine’s day, women and men around the world will once again dance and rise to end all forms of violence against women and children (VAWC), as One Billion Rising campaign continues this year, with a call for “revolution.”
The OBR – the global campaign to end VAWC – is in its fourth year since 2013, and has been held in more than 200 countries, including the Philippines.
Monique Wilson, OBR global director said the OBR coordinators decided to escalate their call for a “revolution,” which means a “radical shift in consciousness, radical shift in the way we are demanding to end violence.”
“We couldn’t anymore demand an end to violence unless we also call for a system change. That is the very system in many countries around the world that are actually keeping our women violated and oppressed,” said Wilson in the OBR 2016 launch on Jan. 21.
Wilson said that for the past three years, not only was there a growing number of participants in the yearly OBR events on Feb. 14, but there is also a rising consciousness of the people on the issue of violence against women and girls.
“For some time, the issue of violence against women and girls was a side issue,” said Wilson. “You know that violence against women is happening but you don’t have the sense of urgency. When OBR started, it landed in the front page of newspapers around the world, in the news, lifestyle news, and entertainment news — in all spaces of the media that we didn’t realize that we are talking about all forms of violence against women and girls very deeply,” she added.
“We made violence against women a global human issue not relegated to country or tribe or class or religion. We revealed it as a patriarchal mandate, present in every culture of the world.”
In this year’s rising, the OBR will put the most marginalized groups at the forefront. Their slogan is “Listen. Act. Rise.”
“Listen, because if we truly know what the issues are, we will really rise whatever sector you belong to. You will not say no to rising because these issues also affect us,” said Wilson.
Wilson also said that violence against women is not only sexual violence. She said poverty also leads to economic violence, which, she said, is one of the worse forms of violence.
“Because if there is no opportunity, the more women are likely to be abused like prostitution, trafficking and forced labor,” she said.
OBR as platform for abused women
Wilson said one of the successes of the OBR is that it became a platform for abused women. She said grassroots communities were engaged in the OBR, and were encouraged to speak of their condition, to fight and call for a stop to exploitation and abuse.
“It is no longer just celebrities talking in behalf of other women, but also activists who are really on the ground who are telling their stories, who are really calling for their perpetrators to justice, who are also coming together in unity, and that happened all around the world,” she said.
Also with OBR, she said, women and men from other sectors also joined “risings,” such as students, environmentalists, and progressive groups.
Wilson said some risings happened even before Feb. 14. In the Philippines, the OBR Revolution was launched last year during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25.
Wilson will also join playwright and OBR founder Eve Ensler in different countries before and after Feb 14.
“We will hold risings in Bangladesh for the workers of the Rana Plaza, in Hong Kong with the overseas Filipino workers, Mexico where human trafficking is massive, and in London where we will take up the issue of refugees,” she said.
Wilson also said that Ensler will be joining the OBR on Feb. 14 here in the Philippines. She will also go to communities and listen to the issues of the different sectors in the country. Ensler will also visit the Lumad evacuees in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) compound in Haran, Davao City.