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Flash mob dances to raise awareness of abuse against women

February 26th, 2014 Posted in Opinion

By Noelle Johansen

LOGAN—In a flash mob at Utah State University, students and the Community Abuse Prevention Services Agency (CAPSA) danced to raise awareness of abuse against women as part of the international One Billion Rising for Justice movement.

“One Billion Rising is a global campaign that the statistic that one in three women will experience violence in their lifetime equals one billion women on the planet,” said Michelle Merrill, CAPSA community outreach and operations director. “It started last year by Eve Ensler and so we joined 207 countries today by doing a rising on campus.”

The dance in the Taggart Student Center on USU campus was the second of two flash mobs on Friday.

“We did one earlier today down at the historic courthouse and involved the county attorney’s office and law enforcement,” said Jill Anderson, executive director of CAPSA in Cache County. “[We] just wanted to thank them for their work that they do in helping bring justice for victims.”

Anderson has been executive director for 16 of her 20 years at CAPSA. “It’s strange, but when you’re involved with something you’re passionate about, it goes by fast,” she said.

Merrill said more dancers participated last year, but noted greater diversity of the groups this year.

“I think what is great to notice is that there was a diverse group here,” Merrill said, “which also represents abuse. It doesn’t discriminate against any type of person, it happens to anyone.”

CAPSA was founded on Feb. 14, 1985 to “provide safe, caring and confidential shelter, advocacy, and support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; and to reduce incidents of abuse through prevention education,” according to the website.

Zumba instructor Deolinda Marshall led the group of more than 40 dancers. “We’ve been practicing the song in my Zumba classes,” Marshall said. “We did it last year, same choreo[graphy].” She said the choreography was a simplified version of the same dance performed globally to the song “Break the Chain.”

Two dancers held posters that said “One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime” and “rise, release, dance.” The choreography ended with every dancer raising their right pointer fingers in the air.

“This same song and this same movement is going on all over the world, not just here,” Marshall said, though the rain might have kept locals from participating. “This year the weather didn’t help out much,” she said. “We were in the rain dancing, it was kind of fun. People in the courthouse came out and danced.”

Anderson said the One Billion Rising movement and flash mob helps raise awareness and commitment to stop violence against women. “Just being a part of that movement worldwide is energizing and helps us get excited about the work and successes that we see,” Anderson said.

Merrill shared that excitement. “We’ll be back!” she said. “February 14 every year.”




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