One Billion Rising events in Tampa Bay call attention to violence against women

02/13/13 Seán Kinane
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Tuesday the U.S. Senate passed an extension of the Violence Against Women Act.

It includes new provisions to protect gays and lesbians, immigrants and Native American women.

The act expired in 2011.

Ending violence against women is the goal of activists organizing events called One Billion Rising.

There are two in the Tampa Bay area Thursday and one is organized by Ayele Hunt, executive director of I Am Choice.

"One billion rising is Eve Ensler's global call to end violence against women and girls. Essentially it's a part of V day which Eve Ensler started 15 years ago. This year basically the quote was one billion women violated is an atrocity but one billion women dancing is a revolution so that became the crux of the international call to celebrate the end of violence against women and girls."

V-day is associated with and derives it's name partly from February 14th, Valentine's Day.

"Yes, as well as the Vagina Monologues which Eve Ensler is popular for writing and starring in."

How is "One Billion Rising" being commemorated in the Tampa Bay area?

"There's two different events, we're actually on both sides of the bay this year. Reach Up inc. in Tampa and Tampa Now and other groups are doing an event in the afternoon at 12:14 pm at Oak Grove Church at 6830 Habana Avenue, they're going to have Jane Castor speak, they're going to have dancers and some other speakers as well and then on the other side in St. Petersburg I Am Choice is doing an event at Studio 620. Doors open at 6:30 and we're going to have June Bustamante, John Clark, Betty Fox performs which is some great local musicians as well as some local poets."

What is it that people will be, besides the entertainment, what will they be learning at an event like that?

"Aside from the entertainment the celebratory aspect is a big one between V-Day and also Valentine's Day but aside from that our call to action is really going to be around the VAWA, the Violence Against Women's Act. It just passed the Senate majority 78-22 so really what we need to do is focus on getting the House support to it can pass this year."

The Florida senators, one voted for it, Bill Nelson, and one voted against it, Senator Marco Rubioo. What do the prospects look like in the House for overall pasage in the House and can you let us know how the protections in the Senate expanded this year?

"Yes, the protections that the Senate expanded as far as getting more ( ) visas to undocumented women, providing protection for people in same-sex relationships and then also extending protections to women who are Native Americans on the reservations. As far as what the support is looking like in the state of Florida we know that last time 17, all Republicans voted against it in the House so that means we had about 10 legislators vote for it. So this time we definitely are looking for an organized movement to explain to the reps that in the state of Florida the citizens are really in support of the Violence Against Women's Act and to at least look for a majority of our reps to come on board. I definitely think that's doable, we had in the Senate nationwide 9 more Republicans sign on this time than last year. So, yeah, I definitely think it's a possibility."

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