Flashmob planned as One Billion Rising against violence comes to Manchester

Article published: Thursday, February 14th 2013

One third of women worldwide are raped or beaten in their lifetime. On Thursday Hulme’s Z-Arts Centre will be host to Manchester’s corner of One Billion Rising, a global day of protest and dance demanding an end to the violence.

One billion rising in San Fransisco on the 40th anniversary of Roe vs Wade. Photograph: Steve Rhodes

One billion rising in San Fransisco on the 40th anniversary of Roe vs Wade. Photograph: Steve Rhodes

The evening will hear spoken word and poetry from women who’ve survived violence and abuse, as well as music from the Thula Mamas choir and women drummers group Wangari, theatre and comedy, and African dance from Jo Keh.

Organiser Meg Fenwick told Mule the event focuses on dance as an “act of defiance” against oppressive practices across the globe which attempt to control women’s bodies and repress their freedom.

Dance “allows you to be free within yourself” she explained, adding that in addition to calling attention to violence inflicted on women and girls the event also wanted to be a “celebration of that sense of being in your own body”.

Organisers say the event aims to inspire movements which aim to end such violence, whether “the woman brutally raped and killed in India” or “the girl in your class who came in covered in bruises.”

In Manchester nearly 17,000 incidents of domestic abuse, mostly inflicted on women, were reported to Greater Manchester Police in 2010. The actual figure is estimated to be far higher.

The day will also see a number of organisations including the Pankhurst Centre taking part in a flashmob protest between 11am and 1pm in Piccadilly Gardens to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. Demonstrators will take part in One Billion Rising’s “Break the Chain” dance, and the action is in part inspired by the famously assertive Ely Cathedral statue of the Madonna.

Co-ordinator of the Manchester action and rape survivor Lizzie Gawen said, “I wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for the strong passionate women who have taken care of me and supported me on my journey.

“I want to see an end to violence against women, with the hope that what happened to me won’t happen to others. Our blue dresses are inspired by the Madonna, as we want to celebrate the holiness and sacredness of women and their bodies.”

Donna Barber, Drop-in Coordinator at the Pankhurst Centre, said, “The Pankhurst Centre strongly supports this cause. All forms of non-consensual sex are rape. We want to see more help for victims of rape and sexual violence, greater resources for prosecution and a greater public awareness, that yes means yes and no means no.

“Rape is rape and will not be tolerated!”

All genders are welcome to the Z-Arts event, part of an international campaign organised by the feminist activist movement V-day, also known for the producing the Vagina Monologues.

Richard Goulding

The event takes place on Thursday, February 14, 2013 6:30 PM – 10:30 PM at the Z-Arts centre, 335 Stretford Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 5ZA

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