Dance in protest at violence

MAKE PEACE NOT WAR: Trafalgar st protesters dance to condemn violence against women.
MAKE PEACE NOT WAR: Trafalgar st protesters dance to condemn violence against women.

Nelson has started a wave of action condemning violence against women around the world with a dance at the top of Trafalgar St.

One Billion Rising is a global protest against violence to women, which started in New Zealand yesterday - Valentines Day.

The action was prompted by incidents such as the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a bus in Delhi, India, last year.

The high-profile case highlighted the failure of the criminal justice system to bring the guilty to justice in a country where statistics show a rape is reported every 20 minutes.

The One Billion Rising movement aims to get 1 billion people to "walk out, dance, rise and demand an end to this violence".

A couple of hundred people did just that in 1903 Square yesterday, in an event organised by Nelson woman Jenese Belzer.

"I wanted to be part of it, and I wanted to see it happen - so I organised it," she said.

Nelson drama teacher and dancer Jo Say volunteered to teach about 25 people the "empowering" dance, choreographed by top Hollywood choreographer Debbie Allen, and learnt the moves off a YouTube video.

"One of the moves is called Break the Chain. The messages [of One Billion Rising] are reflected within the dance," she said.

Nelson police family violence co-ordinator Sergeant John Maxwell said it was great to see such a large turnout.

Mr Maxwell said some of the cases of violence the police came across "defied logic".

"Domestic violence is a huge issue. It's OK to ask for help. A problem shared, is a problem halved," he said.

Violence did not have to be physical to have a life-long impact. It could also be emotional or psychological.

"Evil can only prevail when good people stand by and do nothing. If you see things, you need to act upon them. It's not just a police issue. It's a community issue."

Sexual Abuse Support and Healing or SASH-Nelson chairwoman Mary Connor said one in every three women around the world would be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

She said a 2007 University of Auckland study found that one in four New Zealand girls were sexually abused before the age of 15.

"It's good to know there are agencies like SASH there at the bottom of the cliff, waiting to pick up the pieces, but wouldn't it be better if our services weren't needed at all? How about if nobody abused little kids, wives, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, aunties, and grandmothers?"

Victory Community Centre manager Kindra Douglas said she was ambushed by two older boys on her way home from school as an 8-year-old, who taunted and bullied her.

When she told her parents, her mother told her about a "golden rule" of humanity: "Do not do to others what you would not like done to you."

"I went home relatively unscathed that night, but I learnt the power of a few golden words. It's a pretty simple and easy principle."

Two women were killed in Nelson last year, and there have been three sexually-motivated attacks on women in the region this year.

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