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‘One Billion Rising’ shines light on violence against women

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One billion women violated is an atrocity, one billion women dancing is a revolution, said Lynn Otterson, Director of the UIS Women’s Center. In support of the One Billion Rising Campaign to end violence against women, UIS’ own ladies participated in a global dance to break the chain on February.

The Tena Clark song, “Break the Chain,” featured empowering lyrics about surviving sexual assault and domestic violence. This very dance was performed globally in over 200 countries, spreading the message worldwide.

Choreographed and taught by UIS students, dedicated women banded together to explore the premise of the One Billion Rising movement. The day of the event, two dances were performed – one in the PAC near the Food Emporium and the other in the TRAC lobby.

The dance itself lasted only four and a half minutes in length, but the symbolism resonated much longer with the crowd. At the end of the dance, participants slowly rose, holding one finger pointed in the air. This was symbolic of the phrase, “If I rise, you rise,” Otterson explained. It is on the individual to help people rise above and do better, she added.

Dancer Katie Woodford is a sophomore business administration and accounting major. She got involved in the dance by way of her boss, Elizabeth Steinborn, who approached her and several other women, asking if they wanted to help out. Steinborn thought Woodford would enjoy helping out because she knew she liked to dance.

Freshman math major Robyn Crutchfield also participated in the dance. She said she wanted to get involved because it was something that hit home. “It’s something that affects everybody, not just people in developing [third world] countries,” she said. She added it was a way to “fight back without being violent.”

Some of the audience members watching were moved by this act of fighting back. Freshman criminal justice major Gella –Kate Meeks said the campaign “touched her [emotionally].” She added that even thought she was not formally one of the dancers who performed, she was happy to join in with them. Meeks felt the event was a success.

“It [this event] also shows that this kind of personal violence, sexual violence, relationship violence knows no boundaries of nation, of culture, of race [or] of continent,” Otterson said. Although the dance has ended, that fight has not ended. The Women’s Center has begun planning an event for April 19 called “Take Back the Night,” for Sexual Assault Awareness month.

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