February 14, 2013

Flashmob Dances on Ho Plaza to Protest Violence Against Women

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Ithaca joined cities such as London, Los Angeles, Jerusalem and New Delhi, and others around the world, as it saw a flashmob Thursday demanding an end of violence toward women. About 50 people participated in the flashmob, which was held on Ho Plaza.

The flashmobs were held in cities across the world as part of One Billion Rising, a movement that combats violence against women.

“One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime,” said Ihsan Kabir ’14, one of the organizers of the Ho Plaza event, quoting one of OBR’s slogans.

“One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion people dancing is a revolution.”

Kabir organized the event despite  never having previously participated in a flash mob. He said the global nature of the OBR movement inspired him to organize the Valentine’s Day flashmob in Ithaca.

“I’m from Bangladesh, and my mom is doing One Billion Rising over there,” Kabir said. “When I found out there wasn’t one here, I started organizing it.”

Kabir and fellow organizer Neha Shah ’13 have been preparing for the event since early January, using social media to publicize it.

“One Billion Rising is incredibly important to me because it’s a global event,” Shah said. “There are over 200 countries doing this. The fact that people are rising all over the globe is really special to me.”

Shah said she was pleased by the number of poeple who participated in the event.

“I think this was a great movement because all you needed to do was show up and support [the flashmob]. That was what made it so inspirational: Anyone could join,” Shah said. “I hope to see more events like that, where the idea is to really raise awareness and give support for a good cause, not just through monetary donations and things like that.”

On the ground of Ho Plaza, students wrote, in chalk, an array of anti-violence phrases, including “Get Over Gender Hatred,” “Cornell is Rising,” “For Women & Those Who Love Them” and One Billion Rising’s motto, “Rise Dance Strike.”

The dancing began at 1 p.m. on Ho Plaza and lasted about five minutes. Most onlookers had already assembled on the plaza, having learned of the gathering from a Facebook event.

About 18 dancers joined Kabir to dance to the song “Break the Chain,” produced specifically for One Billion Rising, with choreography also created for the song.

Midway through the song, more than 30 onlookers joined in with the dance. Some were audience members who learned the dance on the spot, while others had learned the choreography from the “Break the Chain” video on YouTube, according to Juliana Batista ’16, a participant who also helped teach choreography to flashmob participants.

“[Turnout] was better than we were expecting,” Batista said. “It’s exciting to see the enthusiasm of the people here.”

Students said events that raise awareness of violence against women are important to hold at Cornell.

“I think events like One Billion Rising are extremely important for our campus and should definitely be more frequent,” said Rachel Samuel ’16, a member of the crowd. “We live in a society where we are taught ‘do not get raped’ rather than ‘do not rape.’ Somehow the blame has been put on the victim’s shoulders and I think it’s crucial for women who have been victims of sexual assault to realize that they are certainly not alone and it is certainly not their fault

Original Author: Noah Rankin