news 14 Feb 13

Balkans Join World Dance Against Violence to Women

Activists in all the countries of the region are joining what some call the biggest demonstration in human history – the '1 Billion Rising' event - a dance aimed at raising awareness of violence against women.

Belgrade, Bucharest, Podgorica, Pristina, Skopje, Sofia, Tirana, Zagreb
Photo by Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Events are being held across the Balkans to mark the world's "1 Billion Rising Day" of protests against violence to women.

Eve Ensler, from the activist group V-Day, which is organizing the event in 201 countries, said it is “literally dancing up the will of the world to end violence against women and girls”.

The movement estimates that one in three women can expect to be raped or beaten during her lifetime and that around a billion women around the world are routinely abused.

Milos Djajic, one of the organisers of the event in Serbia, said a regional agreement was for most events to begin at 2pm.

"This is an opportunity to show that many people are struggling against violence and want to get up and protest against violence against women," Djajic said.

In Albania, the event is taking place near a Roma community in Fushe Kruja where women live in difficult conditions and routinely suffer domestic violence.

The event will start with a discussion on violence and on ways to reduce it. After, there will be dancing and singing to celebrate the unity of women.

Hundreds of citizens danced in Bosnian towns too. The central event was held in Sarajevo where few dancing groups led dozens of citizens and activists into dance against violence over women, thus joining the global movement, One Billion Rising.

Danijela Dugandzic Zivanovic, coordinator of the campaign in Bosnia, told Balkan Insight that she is satisfied with the number of people who came to raise their voice against violence adding that she hoped a clear message was sent.

“This is just one of the activities to raise awareness about the violence against women, to discuss about this topic...but not from the position of a victim, but from a position that a woman is a survivor and that life begins from her,” Dugandzic Zivanovic said.

The dance against violence was held in various other Bosnian towns and was supported by many international organizations as well as local institutions.

Bulgaria is marking the event with youth organizations and NGOs taking the lead in the coastal town of Varna.

In Croatia, Zagreb's central park Zrinjevac will seen an event organised by women's groups, ordinary citizens, singers and bands, and even the Police Academy Choir.

Campaigners in Kosovo are inviting people to “an evening of joy, protest and dance" at the building of the Boro and Ramiz Youth centre, meanwhile.

Photo by Sinisa Jakov Marusic

V-day Macedonia, together with the National Network Against Family Violence and Violence against Women, also joined the campaign with activities on Skopje’s main Macedonia square.

Several hundred mainly young people gathered on the main square in Skopje.

“Statistics show that this is a big problem in Macedonia but the situation on the ground is even worse because violence often remains unreported” said Sandra Tileva from V-day Macedonia.

In Montenegro, besides raising awareness of issues connected to the Billion Rising Campaign, the organisers are promoting a production of the play, The Vagina Monologues. There is no entrance fee, but an optional donation.

In Romania, the first ballerina with the Bucharest National Opera, Monica Petrica, and the Tango Tangent dance group are leading the event at the National Library in Bucharest.

The ballerina said she had accepted the invitation to participate without hesitation.

“It’s time to stand up and support the idea that women in Romania and around the world ... deserve to be cherished, respected, protected and especially loved,” Petrica said.

In Serbia, 15 cities and towns have joined the protests across the world.

Carrying banners "Rape is a crime" and with a flash mob performans, Belgrade has joined world celebrations marking "the V-Day".

The organisers noted that one in four women in Serbia experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Many public figures, including the actress Mirjana Karanvic and Obmudsman Sasa Jankovic have supported it.

The V-Day movement is growing rapidly throughout the world. The non-profit corporation distributes funds to grassroots, national and international organizations and programs that work to stop violence against women and girls.

According to the movement's website, the "V" stands for "Victory, Valentine and Vagina".

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