'V-Day' rises to the challenge of violence against women and girls

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2013, 5:53am

As lovebirds shower each other with flowers and chocolates tomorrow, a campaign is aiming to mobilise one billion people around the world to oppose violence against women - by, among other activities, dancing.

For 15 years, Valentine's Day has also been "V-Day" - a day of global events in a campaign to end violence against women and girls. The V stands for victory, vagina and valentine.

This year the campaign is promoting "One Billion Rising" - an effort to get a billion people around the world to protest against violence against women. The billion figure also refers to a UN finding that one in every three women will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

University of Hong Kong law professor Puja Kapai decided to bring the campaign to the city after learning that her first-year students did not know about the 23-year-old Indian student who died after being gang raped in New Delhi in December.

"They think incidents of sexual violence and rape aren't an issue that affects Hong Kong," Kapai said.

She startled her students by informing them that a woman was raped or sexually assaulted in Hong Kong every three hours on average, according to RainLily, Hong Kong's centre for sex abuse victims.

Troubled by that figure, 17 of her students volunteered for the One Billion Rising campaign.

Kapai's group Speak for Humanity will host a full day of events at HKU tomorrow, starting with remarks by lawmakers Emily Lau Wai-hing and Charles Mok, followed by a seminar comparing sexual violence in Hong Kong to that in New Delhi.

The day's events will be capped off with a "Break the Chain" dance-a-thon in Central's Statue Square - a reference to breaking the "chain" of violence - for which 120 men and women have signed up.