It could be something your co-worker is living with, or your cousin. It might have happened to that woman you passed in the crosswalk on Main Street. And the young woman behind the counter of the store you purchased this newspaper in? It may be what she goes home to every night. Maybe, it’s happening to you. That’s the thing: Violence against women isn’t talked about openly. Those who’ve suffered through it often endure in silence; they don’t tell anyone about it. Yet, according to statistics published by the United Nations in 2006, one in every three women worldwide will be sexually abused or beaten at some point in her life. That equates to approximately one-billion women and girls.
And that statistic led to One Billion Rising, a global human rights campaign that began last year. It was the brainchild of Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues and founder of “V-Day,” a movement she started 16 years ago to raise awareness of violence against women and girls in an effort to end it. Ensler upped the ante last year, creating the One Billion Rising 2013 campaign, asking women everywhere to gather together on “V-Day,” Feb. 14, to dance in solidarity against gender-based abuse.
The Valentine’s Day event was a spectacular success by any account, with an estimated one billion women in 207 countries participating at the local level, dancing to the stirring anthem “Break the Chain” in their own communities. New Paltz was among them.
Now the same local organizers who put together last year’s New Paltz Rising have morphed into Hudson Valley Rising, and are preparing for a reprise of the event to be held this year on campus at SUNY New Paltz on Friday, Feb. 14.
A “speak-out” and flash mob dance begins at 4 p.m. in front of the administration building outside the Atrium. Afterward, a dance will be held inside the multipurpose room (MPR) in the student union building. If there’s extreme weather that day, meet inside the MPR at 4 p.m.
The speak-out is an open mic, where anyone can speak out about why they’re rising, says Corinna Coracci, director of residence life at SUNY New Paltz and one of the local organizers. At last year’s event, she organized a flash mob dance on campus while another group danced on Main Street; this year they all decided to unite as one and hold a singular event on the SUNY campus. “We’re not asking anyone to divulge their story at the speak-out,” Coracci says. “People can give just a word, or a sentence, about why they’re there; if they want to. And it’s not a protest. It’s about empowerment, gathering together in unison.”
Beyond that, it’s an historic event to participate in, she adds. Last year’s event was the largest global action of its kind in the history of the world, according to a statement by Eve Ensler on the One Billion Rising website. “New Paltz is getting together with the rest of the world,” says Coracci. “Every one of us plays a part.”