Jiya Weaver said International Women’s Day, which was Friday, is her favourite day of the year.
“But not everyone gets it,” said the 11-year-old student from École Cobble Hill to the approximately 200 people who attended the annual One Billion Rising event in Duncan’s City Square on March 7.
Weaver said one young man once asked her why International Women’s Day is her favourite day because Canada is a free country where bad things like rape don’t happen to women.
“But that’s not how it works,” she said.
“People like that don’t understand that they are the problem and bad things will continue to happen if we don’t get our points across to them. Instead of blaming women for walking alone, or other reasons, for being raped, the attacker should be told to STOP!”
People come together from the Cowichan Valley and beyond once a year at the local One Billion Rising event to dance and express joy, community and celebrate the fact that, together, violence can be defeated.
The events, held around the world, are calls to action based on the staggering statistics of abuse against women that state that about one in three women around the world will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes.
With the world population currently at about seven billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls.
The Duncan event is hosted in partnership by Cowichan Intercultural Society, Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, the Matraea Centre and Warmland Women’s Support Services Society.
Several members of the Cowichan Valley Shimmy Mob also attended Duncan’s One Billion Rising event.
Members of the international Shimmy Mob organization hold belly-dance flash mobs in support of victims of abuse worldwide, and to support women’s shelters and charities.
Spokeswoman Chris Thompson said the group attended the event to raise awareness around violence against women and related issues.
“Domestic violence is still a very real thing, so these events get the community together to support these causes,” she said while the group danced with the rest of the participants.
“Besides, how much fun is this?”
Deb Berg, executive director of the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, said many women who are victims of rape and violence feel great shame.
“It’s like being covered in a thick blanket that chokes off words and blacks out the light,” she said.
“It blinds them from hope, which is the antidote to shame. Hope is not just an emotion, it can be learned and actively cultivated. Let’s learn hope by carefully sharing these experiences with a trusted person, or being the trusted person that others can turn to.”