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Anoushka Shankar and the One Billion Rising campaign

Categories: Social Media

Anoushka Shankar is just one high-profile example of the supporters drawn to the One Billion Rising campaign, taking place Valentine's Day. Shankar's online acknowledgement that she was sexually and emotionally abused as a child is offered as context for her support of the campaign.

"As a child I suffered sexual and emotional abuse for several years at the hands of a man my parents trusted implicitly," she says in the video, adding that she was subject to "groping, touching and verbal abuse." The daughter of late sitar player Ravi Shankar, she says she finds herself frequently walking in fear now, because of the pervasiveness of violence against women.

Moreover, Shankar goes on to say, "You know, enough is enough... I'm rising with the amazing women of my country, who are together calling and saying, 'Enough is enough.' I'm rising for the child in me who I don't think will ever fully recover from what happened to her. So, join me."

Fatal rape adds impetus

One Billion Rising is a global campaign aimed at ending violence against women and girls. In planning for more than a year, the campaign has added impetus because of the brutal rape on a New Delhi bus of a 23-year-old woman, who later died of her injuries. The case has galvanized stars and world leaders to speak out on the issue of violence against women, particularly violence in Africa and Asia.

Julia Gillard Australian PM Julia Gillard delivered her message backed by a symbol of her power, the Australian houses of parliament. (YouTube)

One Billion Rising has attracted high-profile supporters and they're speaking online to rally enthusiasm. Australian prime minister Julia Gillard delivered a video message to say "on Feb. 14, let's show the world doesn't have to be like that. Let's find the courage to stand together and say 'enough.' The violence has to stop" There are dozens of calls from the heart, from men and women.

High-profile supporters

Among them:

  • Actor Rosario Dawson, saying "every other issue we care about will not move forward if women and girls are not safe."
  • Robert Redford, inviting one billion women and those who love them to walk out, dance and put an end to violence.
  • Charlize Theron, saying she's "had enough. I'm tired of hearing these stories of pain and suffering."
  • Alice Walker, saying love yourself and share the love.
  • Sally Field, saying "it's time for women to come to the table. It's time."
  • Eve Torres, wearing a pink belt to represent self-defence.
  • Eve Ensler, speaking from Congo.
  • Jane Fonda, with a moving story about the abuse of her mother.

Women and men who care about the issue are invited to "Strike, Dance, and Rise" some time on Feb. 14 in a series of community-based events. Like V-Day, a 30-year-old campaign that encourages fund-raising readings of Eve Ensler's play The Vagina Monologues on Valentine's Day, the movement is designed to draw attention to women beaten and raped.

'I walk in fear'

It is Anoushka Shankar's statement that "as a woman, I walk in fear" that resonates so soundly. The Canadian women who took part in Take Back the Night events in the 1980s are now mothers, worried about the safety of their daughters. And many who enjoyed the benefits of second-wave feminism in North America are looking at the lives of women in other countries, including India, and saying "Maybe we didn't come as far as we thought."

Powered by social media, the One Billion Rising campaign has support across Canada, with hundreds of events planned. A movement can't make the issue go away, but it can focus the attention of leaders on an issue that is too often taken as just the way of the world.

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