V-Day event planned

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A Valentine's Day event in Owen Sound will bring many different types of dance together to raise awareness about violence and rape against women.

H.E.R Grey Bruce, a local advocacy group, is planning an event at the Grey Granite Club in Owen Sound as part of 1Billion Rising, a worldwide movement aimed at ending rape and rape culture. The event, which calls for people around the globe to dance as a way of demanding an end to the violence marks the 15th anniversary of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls started by Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues.

1 Billion Rising gets it’s name from statistics that indicate one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. Based on the world’s population of about six billion, that equals one billion women.”

"There are going to be events all over the world on Valentine's Day. It is about dancing and raising energy and awareness about violence against women and girls,” said Jessica Fleguel, a member of H.E.R Grey Bruce.

Events have been planned in close to 200 countries to mark the event.

The Owen Sound event runs from 5 p.m. to midnight. There will be a wide variety of dance including Zumba, international folk dancing, Nia, Tango and contradancing led by different teachers from 5 to 10 p.m. An open free dance will follow from 10 p.m. to midnight.

"This is a very serious issue, but we are keeping it positive and fun," said Fleguel. "It is to raise energy and to connect people together and everybody needs to be aware of these things."

Fleguel said the event is open to everyone, men and women, couples, singles and families. There will be crafts for children from 5 to 8 p.m. Those who may not want to participate in the dancing are also invited out as "attendance itself shows support for the cause."

"It is not just for women and girls, it is for those who love them as well," said Fleguel. "We want to challenge everyone in the community to come out and support this. There is something for everybody."

Fleguel said the event is the biggest of its kind in support of women and their rights.

"So many countries are doing it, it is amazing," said Fleguel.

The fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a New Delhi bus in December has also brought the issue of rape to the forefront. It led to protests across India over the country's lack of laws that protect women against violence and rape. The outcry forced the government to rush through new laws to protect women.

"I think the rape of that girl in New Delhi certainly really made this take off," said Fleguel.

While Thursday's event in Owen Sound is free, donations will be accepted to help cover costs, including the rental fee for the space and a sound system.

H.E.R Grey-Bruce would also like to give some money to the Men's Program.

H.E.R Grey-Bruce is a local group of women that is trying to make changes for women and men through advocacy.

Other initiatives of the group include a show at the Roxy in April called H.E.R Stories and the Slut Walk in May, held to drive home the point that sexual assault has nothing to do with the way a person looks.

"We are trying to bring awareness about stuff that affects us," said Fleguel.

The group is also planning a flashmob for Thursday. Anyone interested in taking part is asked to contact the group through the H.E.R Facebook page.



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