India leads day of ‘One Billion Rising’ for women

February 14, 2013 1:49 pm


Indian students dance as they take part in a One Billion Rising rally in New Delhi/AFP
Indian students dance as they take part in a One Billion Rising rally in New Delhi/AFP
MUMBAI, Feb 14 – Indians were at the forefront of global protests on Thursday in the One Billion Rising campaign for women’s rights, galvanised by the recent fatal gang rape that shocked the country.

Flashmobs, marches, singing and dances were planned in about 200 countries as part of the campaign’s day of action, timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day and aiming to bring an end to violence against women.

In New Delhi, the site of angry protests just weeks ago after the brutal rape of a student on a bus, campaigners said they would use the day to keep pressure on the government to introduce new measures to protect women.

“Our programmes have started in colleges and I am going with women taxi drivers to spread the word of equality because today is the day of love,” Kamla Bhasin, leading the campaign in South Asia, told AFP.

Along with protests and candle-lit marches, India’s plans included a noisy “open drum circle” at sunset by the sea in Mumbai and a “ceremonial burial” of patriarchy and misogyny in Gurgaon city, near the capital.

Sydney, Singapore and Manila were among the cities to kickstart the day of action by One Billion Rising, founded by American playwright and leading feminist Eve Ensler, best known for her play “The Vagina Monologues”.

The campaign is calling on one billion people to rise against violence and take a stand for the one billion women — one in three in the world — who will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes.

Among those supporting this year’s campaign was Anoushka Shankar, daughter of legendary Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar, who said in a video released Thursday that she had been sexually abused as a child by a family friend.

The US-born musician dedicated her message to the victim of the Delhi rape on December 16 by six drunken men, who later died in hospital from horrific injuries.

“Enough is enough. I am rising,” she said. “I am rising with the women of my country.”

As scores of flashmobs took place on beaches and city squares across Australia, Minister for the Status of Women Julie Collins told parliament it was “a sad fact that every day millions of women are subjected to violence and physical abuse”.

“Violence against women has no geographical financial or cultural boundaries; it is, regrettably, happening everywhere, every day,” she said.

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