By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The goal is that 1 billion people will raise their voices in one concentrated effort to raise awareness of violence against women.
Chris Hobson Whalen said she would be happy if just a few people are able to attend a local gathering being held at Trinity Park in Plattsburgh on Valentine’s Day, but she hopes the North Country will join in the V-Day activity.
“Basically, we’re gathering on February 14 in support of the worldwide initiative,” Hobson Whalen said of One Billion Rising, a global movement in support of all women who have faced violence. “It’s an opportunity to play music and dance to raise the vibrations of the world to end violence on women.”
An estimated 177 countries across the world are expected to participate in One Billion Rising, an effort being promoted by Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” a series of monologues covering such issues as love, sex and rape.
According to the One Billion Rising website, 1 in 3 women on the planet will at one time in their lives be raped or beaten.
“One billion women being violated is an atrocity,” the website states. “One billion women dancing is a revolution.”
“It’s time to stop this,” Hobson Whalen said of the violence and injustice that women face. “We can’t afford to leave half the world’s population out of being healthy, happy and safe. We will never proceed to a more wonderful world if we continue to ignore what is happening.”
The event is also open to men who want to help spread that message and to children, whose future, organizers hope, will be free of violence toward women, she added.
“For me, it’s a personal transformation. I am now more aware of what is going on in the world; it’s a way to get involved, to help shift the world consciousness and end the horrific things that continue to happen.
“I really think these grassroots rallies (like One Billion Rising) help to connect us all.”
Hobson Whalen and co-organizer Theresa Bennett first considered a local gathering for the worldwide event a few weeks ago and moved ahead with plans despite a lack of time for preparation.
“It’s going to be pretty informal,” Hobson Whalen said of the Trinity Park event. “We could get six people or 106, but whatever happens, I’ll be happy with.”
Hobson Whalen first became actively involved in the movement against violence toward women in 2001 when she helped organize a local group of women to travel to New York City to see “The Vagina Monologues.”
“When you see the injustice, you just want to get involved,” she said.
Thursday’s event will mark the 15th anniversary of V-Day, a global movement to end violence to women and girls. The “V” in V-Days stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.
Another V-Day celebration will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Valentine’s Day at Champlain Centre, where representatives from STOP Domestic Violence and Behavioral Health Services North will gather to raise their voices against violence as well.
“When V-Day was started 14 years ago, there was the outrageous idea that we could end violence against women,” Susan Kelley, director of STOP Domestic Violence, said in a press release.
“Now, we are both stunned and thrilled to see that this global action is truly escalating and gaining force.”
The V-Day movement has raised more than $90 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end that violence.
Email Jeff Meyers: firstname.lastname@example.org
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