On February 14th, various groups throughout the Caribbean participated in the global “One Billion Rising”campaign. The campaign called for women across the world to dance together in protest of violence against women (the “one billion” is in reference to a statistic that one in three women will be assaulted or raped in their lifetime):
When One Billion bodies rise and dance on 14 February 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness. Dancing insists we take up space. It has no set direction but we go there together. It's dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone and everyone. It's free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further. It's contagious and it spreads quickly. It's of the body. It's transcendent.
The feminist collective Code Red highlighted some of the events on its blog and compiled a photoset from various events all over the region.
Barbados hosted two One Billion Rising events. One event was held at Heroes Square in Bridgetown and was organized by the One Billion Rising Barbados Planning Committee, and supported by the SAVE Foundation, the National Organisation of Women, Business and Professional Women's Club, YWCA and UN Women.
Another event was held at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill campus, inside the Guild of Students Union. This event was organized by the Institute for Gender and Development Studies.
In Guyana, Stella's Sisterhood of Support and Service Foundation (S4) organized the event, which took place at the Promenade Gardens in Georgetown. The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination also participated.
In Saint Lucia, the One Billion Rising event was organized by the victim's advocacy group PROSAF and was supported by the They Often Cry Out (TOCO) Foundation, which continued its annual Clothesline Project.
Code Red shared a comment which questioned the use of dance as a critical component of the One Billion Rising campaign:
I wish every Feminist initiative, everywhere around the globe, wholehearted success. But… I have a seeeerious problem with the ‘Let’s All Dance!’ focus for the
‘One Billion Rising’ event. Could someone tell me WHY – and in a way that makes pellucid sense to me, WHY Women, in their seemingly chronic male-designation as Abuse Fodder, would choose the carefree, spontaneous, *celebratory* act of …dance: to (somehow?!?) symbolize the One Billion Rising initiative?
Code Red continued:
The whole things seems miscued, somehow; it appears – at least to me, like some desperate psychological ‘buffer’ being enacted by Women globally, to try to distance themselves emotionally from what I have NO FEAR in stating as The Harsh REALITY: i.e., WOMEN’S RIGHTS IS ON A STEADILY DOWNWARD CURVE!
Patrice disagreed with this position instead arguing that “…not every action, event, initiative or strategy is designed to have the same impact or achieve the same goals”:
One Billion Rising is meant to raise awareness. In talking about One Billion Rising, I have had the opportunity to share information and statistics which have startled, alarmed and disgusted people. People are more aware and this awareness can impact the conversations they have and entertain, the political candidates they endorse, the demands they make of their leaders and the overarching climate of the country.
As for the dancing, I do not see the dance as a dance of ignorance and distraction. The dance is not to make mockery or to make light. Indeed, many of the dancers will be the women who are still burning. The originator of the movement herself burned physically and sexually at the hands of her father for years. I see dancing, especially as woman, as rebellious. So many political wars are fought on and around women’s bodies that, as a woman, taking control over your body and bucking tradition by moving it, wiggling it, shaking it, bouncing it and simply owning, embracing and enjoying its movements in that moment, can be a powerful experience.
Damali and Karen Robinson also discussed One Billion Rising on their podcast “Ennufff.”
kev777zero took the photos of One Billion Rising events in Grenada. The pictures of events at Barbados’ Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies are by eemanee, while those from Heroes Square are courtesy UN Women Caribbean. Other event images are from One Billion Rising Barbados, photographer Hy Bridges. The Guyana OBR photos are by arichards. The images from St. Lucia are by Velika Lawrence – visit PROSAF_ThePower OfOne‘s Facebook Page. You can also visit the flickr page of Catch A Fyah ~ Caribbean Feminist Network.