Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Europeans respond in their thousands to V-Day call for action

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Thousands throughout Europe and millions across the globe came together yesterday, in an attempt to create the largest day of mass action ever to stop violence against women and girls.

The V-Day action was organized to express “outrage, and to strike, dance and RISE to support an end to violence against women once and for all”.

There was a good turnout at La Monnaie in central Brussels in Belgium yesterday – one of 203 countries, in which events were organized.

To give some idea of the support for the V-Day action in Western-Europe - more than 10,000 took part in actions in eight Italian cities, including Piazza di Spagna in Rome, and almost 100 towns throughout Germany from Buxtehude to Berlin and Deggendorf to Dortmund.

In Reykjavík Iceland, 1,500 or almost 1.5% of the population crowded into the Harpa Concert hall for a lunchtime dance. To the south, in Lisbon, there were two flashmob events with a few housand people – “will you dance with me?” and Flash Love. Similar events were organized in four other cities in Portugal.

In New York, the United Nations participated in the V-Day action under the banner of the Secretary-General´s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women Campaign. Deputy-Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, addressed the participants and underlined that women are disproportionately the victims of attacks but many times are left out of decision-making processes to respond to gender violence.

“Women bleed and hurt and struggle. We should acknowledge the special qualities that women can bring to our collective fight against violence,” he said.

“Each of us has to do our part. Men must respect women as equals and show solidarity with women combating this scourge of violence. All of society will benefit when men and women unite and rise together.”

In every country local issues were addressed. For instance in Germany where only 12.7% of attackers are ever brought to justice, the focus was on the disappointing results of  judicial procedures for dealing with sexual violence.

In Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, militants made a patchwork where each piece represented a woman or child abused in the West Midlands.   

"Each patch is the story of a survivor, such as a piece of fabric from old curtains from their old life, a swatch from a babygro or a piece from a headscarf worn while on chemo," the organisers told the Guardian newspaper.

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