One Billion Rising in Oxford

A flashmob was held in Bonn Square on Thursday afternoon, as part of the One Billion Rising campaign.

The flashmob involved around 50 participants performing a choreographed dance to ‘Break the Chain’, the campaign’s official song.

One Billion Rising is organised by ‘V-Day’, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. The movement claims that “One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.” The flashmob in Oxford was part of thousands of One Billion Rising events across the world to mark the campaign’s 15th anniversary, including marches in Afghanistan, poetry readings in Somalia, and a debate in the British parliament on Thursday.

Lily Wonham, the Keble dancesport captain who helped to organise the event, told Cherwell, “It was absolutely fantastic! The sun shined and everyone was really energetic. The crowd caught the spirit and began to join in, which was wonderful. I had a big smile on my face throughout, as did everyone else.”

One third-year English student from Brasenose College who watched the flashmob commented, “There was a huge crowd, it filled up the square. Everyone involved was really enthusiastic but the audience was a little more mixed: some were getting really into it, but others were more confused and sceptical.”

Figures scheduled to speak after the flashmob were Imam Monawar Hussain, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire and founder of The Oxford Foundation, and Jenny Lewis, a poet and member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. In addition, In the Pink, an Oxford all-female a cappella group were also scheduled to perform.

Organiser Sarah Apetrei, a student at Keble, explained, “I decided to organise this event after being deeply distressed by the news from Delhi, Ohio, and more recently Mexico and Oxford (Operation Bullfinch), but also moved and overwhelmed by the demonstration of solidarity in India.

“I started to realise that this was part of something much bigger, a groundswell of protest against deeply embedded cultures in which women and girls are routinely raped, exploited, trafficked and silenced.”

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She continued, “We regard dance as an appropriate response, because it celebrates the freedom and dignity of women in their own bodies, and rather than marching or ranting expresses our conviction that violence can only be overcome by love and beauty. That is why we are rising on Valentine’s Day: we are rising for love, compassion and justice.”

Suzanne Holsombach, OUSU Vice President for Women commented, “I think the One Billion Rising is a fun, interactive awareness raising event. It gets people moving, acting, and talking about violence against women and that is a conversation our society needs to have.”