Meet a Few of the One Billion Rising

By Megan Abbot

Today, one billion men and women will come together to act out against violence against women. The One Billion Rising campaign highlights the fact that one billion of the women alive today will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, and this V-Day activists are coming together to protest this violence. Vital Voices supports the One Billion Rising campaign today and the efforts of many thousands of women rising every day across the world.

Vital Voices has long been involved in the fight to end violence against women. We utilize a four-pronged approach to combating violence against women: advocating for legislation, encouraging the implementation of legislation, ensuring that victim services are comprehensive and sustainable, and increasing awareness of both the problem of violence against women as well as the available solutions to hold offenders accountable and protect the safety, security, and dignity of victims.  

The campaign says “What does ONE BILLION look like? ON 14 February 2013, it will look like a REVOLUTION.” We applaud this revolution and the efforts of women leaders everywhere who struggle to end violence against women in their communities every day of the year.  

Meet a few of the billion.

One of the billion: In 1993 Marina Pisklakova Parker established a hotline for victims of domestic violence, the first avenue for victims in Russia to seek assistance. Although Marina is no longer alone, and now there are many services available to victims, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that at least 34,000 women were victims of domestic violence each year, and 70 percent went unreported.

One of the billion: Rosana Schaack works on the rehabilitation of Liberia’s thousands of girl soldiers, who were forced to become fighters, sex slaves, or militants’ “wives.”

Domestic violence is an underreported crime around the world with many women being led to believe that the abuse is their fault. Only 86 countries have instituted some sort of prohibition against domestic violence, thus compounding the issue and making it difficult to prosecute. Through the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women, we work to address the issue of domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking. Launched on International Women’s Day in 2010 through Vital Voices, the U.S. Department of State and the Avon Foundation for Women, this partnership identifies and strengthens international delegates, both men and women, in government, civil society and business who are leading efforts to address violence against women, in 15 different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

One of the billion: Panmela Castro is a graffiti artist and activist in Brazil who spreads awareness about domestic violence through public art. In 2010, CNN reported 10 women were killed in domestic violence each day in Brazil.

One of the billion: Annie Rashidi-Mulumba has been at the forefront of advocacy for women’s rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), seeking to provide legal services and empowerment to victims of sexual assault. DRC has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world, and according to the 2007 Demographic Health Survey, 71 percent of women reported some form of sexual, mental, or physical abuse.

Every year, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders, not including the millions who are trafficked domestically. According to the CIA, 80 percent of those trafficked are women. Through partnerships with Humanity United’s Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (GTIP), and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women, Vital Voices is working to raise awareness and stop modern day slavery.

One of the billion: Swati Chauhan is a judge in Mumbai, India, working in a specialized court for issues of human trafficking. These courts aim to provide justice to survivors of trafficking, despite an over-saturated legal system.

One of the billion: Prudence Galega is changing the frontiers of law around human trafficking in Cameroon. As both a judge and an NGO service provider, she has promoted a legal culture where people are finally ready to deal with the issue of trafficking.



Vital Voices staffers participate in a One Billion Rising rally in Washington, D.C., on February 14, 2013.

L to R: Annie Hurwitz, Jana Spacek, Margarita McFadden, Maya Babla, Megan Abbot, Yaba Haffar.

Megan Abbot is Vital Voices program coordinator, Human Rights.

Pictured at top: Judge Swati Chauhan, India

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