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Local women take part in effort to raise awareness of violence against women

SPENCER — On a day when sweethearts were giving candy to their significant others, a group of women gathered at the Green Goat Gallery to knit — and also take time to dance in the street.
The women twirled and clapped in downtown Spencer on Thursday as part of a global campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.
The One Billion Rising movement began with the Vagina Monologues playwright, Eve Ensler. In 1998, Ensler was inspired to create V-Day, a movement that supports anti-violence organizations and helps draw attention to women and girls who’ve been raped, beaten, molested and mutilated. One Billion Rising began nearly a year ago after Ensler realized her annual efforts through V-Day was no longer enough.
The movement has taken on a new life after the brutal rape and subsequent death of a student in New Delhi, India, recently. Protesters there have called for the death penalty for the six men charged.
“We’ve got to be aware we can’t sweep it under the rug,” said Josie Esquivel.
Esquivel was inspired by Ensler’s message to encourage the women around her to get moving for a cause. Supporters worldwide perform the Vagina Monologues play and hold workshops that benefit education campaigns and other related events.
The women danced in Spencer in solidarity with a billion others throughout the world who were dancing around the same time.
“It’s coming in waves across North America because it’s already been on the other side of the world. Women in Afghanistan, women in India, women all over the world have gone out into the streets and danced,” Esquivel said.
She said dancing is a way to express joy and affirm that women love themselves and are not going to be “pushed around anymore.”
“We’re going to protect our sisters and daughters and mothers and ourselves. And this is a way of expressing it nonviolently and joyfully,” Esquivel said.
Beth Connell worked as a paramedic for 30 years and on many occasions responded to calls where women had been victims of domestic violence.
“These are usually crimes of power where they want to subjugate the female,” Connell said.
Connell said it’s important to raise awareness in every way possible because violence happens across all socioeconomic lines.
“It doesn’t matter, violence happens to women every minute of every day,” she said.
She noted the importance of women in leadership positions.
“We need to be seen as leaders,” she said.
Connell said it’s also important to stand up. She wishes this movement could’ve been a priority for local government.
“Life is not a 1940s musical movie. Life is life. It’s time to deal with it,” said GeoRene Jones.
Jones is a volunteer at the Family Crisis Council, Salisbury, where women who are victims of domestic violence can seek help through a battered women’s shelter, counseling and agency referrals.
For more about V-Day and One Billion Rising, visit www.vday.org and www.onebillionrising.org.

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