Press-Republican

February 15, 2013

Locals gather to end violence against women

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — An enthusiastic crowd gathered in Trinity Park Thursday evening to add their voices to a worldwide mission.

One Billion Rising is the largest day of mass action to stop violence against women and girls with 203 countries participating, according to the movement’s website.

The effort began 15 years ago with V-Day, a day to express the desire to end violence against women. Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” founded the movement.

Donning hats, gloves and scarves, about 40 people gathered together with colorful signs and waved as cars beeped their horns as they drove by.

Another One Billion Rising event was held at Champlain Centre Thursday.

The concept of the event is based on a statistic: One in three women will be abused or raped in their lifetime, which amounts to 1 billion people living at any given moment who have been or will be abused, said Chris Whalen of Plattsburgh, who organized the event.

Mirroring the statistic, the goal of the event is for 1 billion people, both women and men, to gather to raise awareness of violence against women and demand a change.

Whalen wanted the Trinity Park event to be informal so she spread the word on Facebook and through word of mouth, she said.

“I care about the condition of the world,” Whalen said. “I’m just passionate about justice.”

Theresa Bennett of Plattsburgh co-organized the gathering with Whalen. Bennett and her family sponsor a girl in Kenya so she can attend school, Bennett said.

The girl’s father doesn’t think girls should receive an education, she said.

Bennett’s 4-year-old granddaughter recently asked her why people feel they can “throw girl children away” and not give them the same opportunities as boys.

“I want a better world for them,” she said.

“Violence against women is a man’s issue” because most violence against women is perpetrated by men, said George Wurster of Plattsburgh.

“Men need to start acting like men and not animals.”

Wurster knows women in the area who have been subjected to violence in many forms, he said.

“Look at the violence in our country right now,” Jon Votraw of Plattsburgh said. “If there’s a time to stop violence, it’s now.”

Former Plattsburgh City Court Judge Penelope Clute said she saw far too many cases of violence against women over the course of her career.

“I was fighting against domestic violence,” in her time as a judge, she said.

While she thinks the North Country is fortunate in that there is less violence perpetrated by strangers than in other areas, domestic violence is just as big a problem here as it is everywhere else, she said.

“I think it’s prevalent everywhere,” Clute said.

Jerry Bates of Morrisonville accompanied his wife, Darlynn, to the event.

The couple are celebrating 30 years of marriage, he said.

“I’m here to support them who have been subjected to violence.”

Bates said violence against women hasn’t been fully recognized and acknowledged, even though the tradition of violence continues today.

The positive energy and smiles on the faces of those around Bates showed the enthusiasm, acceptance and love the group emanated.

“I feel great that there are so many wonderful people here,” he said.

Email Felicia Krieg: fkrieg@pressrepublican.com