Why we are rising
Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, explains why women are coming together on 14 February to demand an end to violence
Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Whether we look at violence in the home, at work, or on the streets, women across our world face a multitude of daily threats simply to stay alive. The focus on individual cases can give the impression such horrific events are terrible exceptions, rather than the everyday in every nation. Here in Britain 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence, fewer than one in thirty rape victims can expect to see their attacker brought to justice and 24,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation.
One Billion Rising is an international coalition brought together by the vision of Eve Ensler, the creator of the Vagina Monologues and founder of V-Day. It is a global movement that calls for violence against women and girls to be a priority for all Governments. I believe that this international solidarity is vital if we are to create change.
Women are now coming together across borders and across cultures. From Norwich to Peru, through Bute, Manila and Luxembourg via San Francisco, Nigeria and Tel Aviv, activists are organising flashmobs and performances – and they are seeking policy changes that speak to our simple message.
What is that message? Enough. We will not wait any longer for change. It is time. Time to say violence against women and girls isn’t an inevitable fact of life. Whether in India, the Congo, Ohio or Battersea, we can’t survive, let alone thrive, in a world where 50% of our population is subject to such persistent brutality and horror. It is time not to ignore but to challenge those who make this issue the responsibility of women to resolve. It is time to say that it is for everyone to have a zero tolerance approach to violence against women. Time to say is not a matter of gender to care about these issues, but a matter of principle.
One Billion Rising is not the end, but the beginning of a worldwide call for change. By rising together on 14 February we can show our support for those in other countries and show our desire for change in our own country. Here in Britain you can be part of this day of action by asking your MP to vote in parliament for sex and relationship education to be a statutory part of the school curriculum so that both boys and girls can be taught about respect for each other. Many have rightly held politicians to account for not recognising the value of this in helping change these patterns of behaviour in future generations.
It’s not only MPs who can lead the way in tackling violence against women and girls. Whether you join one of the 100 events being planned across the UK or decide to organise one yourself. Whether you come to London on the day to join the flashmobs and performances and lobby your MP. Be part of the rising. Be part of saying enough. It is time.
A version of this article appeared in the Huffington Post. Follow @stellacreasy on Twitter