Take a stance and dance
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 18:02
One in three women in the world is physically or sexually abused in the course of her lifetime, according to the United Nations.
UB students and members of the Buffalo community aim to change that – by dancing.
SBI Health Education is hosting a dance-a-thon – Rise Up and Dance – this Friday night in the Student Union as part of the V-Day movement. V-Day is a global campaign that strives to stop violence against women and girls by generating attention and increase awareness, according to the official website.
The dance-a-thon is being held in conjunction with One Billion Rising, an event for V-Day’s 15thanniversary. The overall message of the campaign is to put an end to violence by urging women to “walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to this violence,” according to its website.
One Billion Rising uses dancing because it is creative and spontaneous, said Ashera Buhite, a senior global gender studies major, in an email. She said that Eve Ensler, the founder of V-Day, is all about dancing because “it takes up space.”
The meaning of V-Day depends on the person interpreting it; it could mean “Valentine’s Day, Vagina Day, or Victory Day,” according to Laurielle Aviles, a senior linguistics major. This is also the first time that a dance-a-thon is being held as part of the campaign.
Aviles is the director of Rise Up and Dance and came up with the event’s concept on her own; she hopes to raise awareness of the V-Day ambition.
“Even though we’re not in the same place physically … we’re still part of the one billion rising in the world,” Aviles said.
Aviles has been passionate about taking a stand on violence against women and girls since she was a freshman. She emphasized it is important for people to realize the problems women face such as domestic violence, but they should not be seen as “victims” who need to be taken care of.
Instead, women should be seen as survivors, ending the problem and receiving support, Aviles said.
Aviles believes everyone has to help end violence against women and girls. “It can’t just be on the shoulders of women who support this cause or women who have experienced [violence],” she said.
One Billion Rising asks people from around the world to raise their voices and celebrate empowerment by doing whatever they can each day to end violence and support survivors, said Jane Fischer, director of SBI Health Education, in an email.
Rise Up and Dance is a way for students to be a part of the larger movement, according to Fischer.
“The issue of violence is obviously heavy,” Fischer said. “However, we want to show that you can celebrate the work that is being done … and do good work at the same time.”
The world is based on violence, according to Aviles.
The culture we live in has caused us to be “immune to the terribleness that violence is,” she said. Aviles believes this culture needs to be erased and preventing violence against women and girls requires the involvement of everyone from the different communities worldwide.
“Sometimes, you feel like there’s nothing that you can do as one small person,” Fischer said. “I love that the V-Day campaign, both internationally and locally, allows you to connect with other people who also want to make a difference.”
Aviles is working with Late Night UB for Friday night’s event.
“Even if you spend four hours dancing with your friends, and at one point the thought of ‘maybe there is something I can do that makes one person’s life a little better or a little safer’ strikes you – then that’s a good night,” Fischer said.
The funds raised through these events will have a portion go toward the V-Day campaign and then sent to countries where women need help, according to Aviles. She said last year’s event sent funds to Congo, Haiti and New Orleans.
The rest of the money will be given to a community organization and this has allowed SBI Health Education to provide Safety Services that keep the campus safe and helps to raise awareness about sexual violence, according to Buhite.
Fischer hopes the UB community will understand it has the power to make a difference in the world and within the community itself.
“I hope that people come out and have a good time while learning about the work that is being done or finding out what they can do – even small steps,” Fischer said. “We’re going to celebrate and raise energy.”
Aviles stresses that people should attend ‘Rise Up and Dance’ and show support for the V-Day cause.
“Maybe you’re not dancing,” Aviles said. “But you being there shows that UB is not going to stand for violence against women.”