By Linyu Huang, Contributor
Instead of enjoying chocolates, roses and romantic dinners, some Omahans joined those in hundreds of cities around the world in hosting a One Billion Rising event. The Valentine’s Day event was aimed at preventing violence against women and girls.
More than 10 organizations, including Voices Against Violence and the UNO Counseling Center, supported the event by presenting informational booths at First United Methodist Church. In addition to the displays, there were musical performances, sign making, video recording and a bake sale benefiting the Women’s Center for Advancement. Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle made an appearance, too, declaring the day as “V-Day Omaha.” Attendees closed out the event with a march to the corner of 72nd and Dodge streets.
One in three women in the world will be beaten or raped during her lifetime, according to data from a United Nations campaign. With the world population at seven billion, that adds up to more than one billion women and girls. Violence against women and girls, such as sexual assault, is usually an issue people don’t like to talk about.
“There are too many people,” said Teresa Holman, a community outreach specialist from the Women’s Center for Advancement. “I want people to know there are resources. Nobody has to go through it alone. Nobody should have to go through it alone.”
Women need support to stand up against violence.
“Women are not second class citizens,” said Cindy Goodin, director of program services from Youth Emergency Services. “We need to all stand together to support that class.”
Women and girls shouldn’t be the only ones aware of this rising problem.
“It doesn’t have to directly affect someone in their life. It can be somebody who is looking out for their loved ones,” Holman said. “If we would want someone to step in for our loved ones as a bystander, then we should be willing to step in for other people’s loved ones as active bystanders to stop that violence from happening.”
Sally Deskins, with her son in tow, showed her support at the event. She encouraged women and girls who have suffered from violence to speak out, support each other and create social awareness.
V-Day, a global grassroots movement, is dedicated to generating broader attention and funds to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery.
“Educating the community is our main goal, so that all women and girls here in Omaha feel safe and know what to do [and] what’s going to happen when they do report any sexual violence to anyone else,” said organizer Lynn Johnson-Romero. “With raising the awareness and being able to get the media cover what we are getting today, we are also letting the Omaha Police Department know that this has to be addressed. We really encourage the organizations that are here today to continue their education in the future.”