One Billion Rising (OBR) is a global educational movement intent on amplifying the awareness of women’s rights; a campaign by women, for women. The effort calls for an end to violence, and for justice and gender equality. The word “billion” refers specifically to the one billion women who are survivors of abuse.
Valentine’s Day of 2013 will mark the 15-year anniversary of the suffragette crusade. The goal for this hallmark anniversary is to enlist a billion people to rise and represent for the One Billion Rising event. People from 160 countries, involved in 5,000 organizations, have signed up to take part in the V-Day campaign.
The program has been endorsed by actors and actresses Rosario Dawnson, Thandie Newton, Charlize Theron, and Robert Redford, as well as political representatives like Stella Creasy.
The movement was initiated by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, known for The Vagina Monologues. The campaign was partially inspired by Ensler’s outrage over the Todd Akin “legitimate rape” and pregnancy comment controversy.
Akin, the US Representative for Missouri’s second congressional district, and a candidate for the US Senate seat held by Claire McCaskill, drew ire when he suggested women’s bodies were physically capable of fending off pregnancy if a rape was truly legitimate, otherwise inferring biological cooperation somehow invalidated defining it as an assault because a pregnancy resulted.
A 2004 paper in the Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine refutes Akin’s inaccurate perception. The body, willingly or otherwise, reacts to the anxiety in a fight-or-flight sympathetic modality, doing what it can to limit injury in the event a woman is forced to acquiesce and physically endure an assault.
On August 19, 2012 an interview with Akin’s was aired by St. Louis station KTVI-TV. Akin made erroneous claims that victims of what he described as “legitimate rape” rarely experience pregnancy as a result of the assault.
When asked about abortion in situations of rape, Akin’s remarked:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
For clarification, there is no natural biological mechanism triggered in the female body which prevents a pregnancy in this manner. It’s not how the female reproductive system works. If a reproductively healthy woman is ovulating and engages in direct sexual contact with a fertile male, regardless of the circumstances of the contact, and omitting the implementation of birth control from either partner, a pregnancy can result.
According to OneBillionRising.org one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. One billion women violated is an atrocity. However, political and social influence in some countries defines the insalubrious attitude and perception of sexual violence as commonplace.
On February 14, 2013, a one-day event will be held. It will call for one billion women and their loved ones around the world to walk away from their homes, businesses, and jobs, and join together and dance in a show of collective strength. For additional information please visit the organization’s website.
Thandie Newton, actress and campaigner, discusses her position and purpose in One Billion Rising, along with her own experiences with violence.
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