It Is Enough, The Violence on Women Has to Stop

It Is Enough, The Violence on Women Has to Stop

?Say your name and tell us one thing we don?t know about you? this is how we began our two day meeting in New York City with One Billion Rising organizers from around the world. Mmmmmmh what do I say? And the next thing I know it, it was my turn to introduce myself. Brain freeze, ?uhm, okay, my name is Ratanang ?RATA? Mogotsi from South Africa, I am a V-Girl and one thing you all don?t know about me is, uhm… On February 14th I danced, no I really, really danced. ?Oh RATA you have to tell everyone the story about your feet in your presentation,? said mama Eve after my introduction. I will do just that. ?On February 14th, I let my body just be, I let it speak in its own language, one which I did not understand, but I didn?t have to understand it, today was the day to let my body just be, with no questions asked and without feeling insecure about anything. My body took control, for the first time in a LONG time, my body took FULL control.

After the introductions, we listened to about 20 presentations on OBR. ?Only 5 minutes each, everyone,? says Monique who is now the director of OBR. You?d think 5 minutes is enough, but not for these passionate women and men, a little extra minute or two was still not enough. But seeing the pictures, posters and videos from the events, proved to me and can prove to any critic that through art and in our case dance, people will join in and rise. I just loved how in each country, women organizations came together and spoke one common language that said ?it is enough, the violence on women has to stop?. The diversity in each country created energy, this multiplying explosive energy which shook the world. ?Eh the ground was moving, the women of the Gambia and I know in all the countries were shaking the ground? said Mama Isatou Touray from Gambia.

Something we didn?t know about our lovely cameraman and V-Man, Tony Stoebel, is that he sings, writes and composes his own music. Thanks to Mama Abha Bhaiya from Bangladesh who showed a video of our cameraman singing a song he wrote for OBR, Bangladesh. I watched him hide behind his camera as his video was playing and I have to say that this was my highlight from the presentation part of the meeting.

Overall the meeting made me see how passionate people are about the movement, it made me realize that when you feel strongly about an idea, no matter how absurd, go for it, because somewhere in the WORLD, someone is thinking about the same thing. It made me realize that anyone can change the world and that our V-Girl voices were part of that change.? It was one billion people rising on February 14 2013 and it will be the same every year. I just made a pledge to make a difference where ever I can to end violence against women and girls. It is possible and anyone can be a part of that change.


Katelyn Campbell: “West Virginia has the 9th highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. I want us to do better. “

Katelyn Campbell is student body vice president at George Washington High School in Charleston, West Virginia.? Katelyn recently filed an injunction with the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming her principal threatened to punish her for speaking out against religious bias and factually inaccurate information presented at an abstinence-only assembly at her school.? Katelyn shared this open letter on her Facebook page, which is posted here with her permission.

“It is my understanding that my actions during this past week have stirred up a significant amount of controversy in the [George Washington High School] community and beyond. I am aware that my actions may have offended some, and for many I believe that your offense is as justified as mine was with the actions of both Pam Stenzel and our Principal, George Aulenbacher. I am writing this in order to debunk many of the comments that I have read, both positive and negative, about this entire situation in an effort to foster a better understanding of the issue at hand. Please note that it is not my intention to try to change anyone?s opinion, I simply want to tell my story in the most honest way possible to foster understanding.

First off, I?d like to note the fact that I have no personal vendetta against George Aulenbacher: he is someone who has been my friend and cohort over his past two years as principal. He did wonderful things for our cross country team in terms of team development, and it is because of his passion that I have been inspired to continue running (although not competitively) after my final high school season. I have always felt respected by Mr. Aulenbacher, and I felt that if I had a personal issue I could come to him without having to worry despite our obvious ideological differences.

This is why I was so shocked when he called me into his office.

I was notified the night before the assembly by a concerned teacher who told me about the religious nature of the assembly for which they had been given information without explanation. Because of my concern (I?ll admit, I?m a strong believer in the separation of church and state), I advertised the assembly for what it was via Facebook and Twitter so students would have the opportunity to opt out if they so chose. I received mostly positive feedback.

I myself opted out of the assembly on the basis that I knew that Pam Stenzel?s speech did not align with my personal beliefs, despite the fact that many students were forced to attend.

Several have questioned why I?m ?pitching a fit? over an assembly I didn?t even go to, and although I?m sure at least one person will call this overly-dramatic, this is why: last spring, I was elected representative of the student body of George Washington High School. My student body was upset. My student body was offended. My student body was hurt. For this reason, I took action. Not only because of my personal offense, but because people around me were offended and the assembly defied West Virginia Statute I25, which states that both sides of controversial issues that display the personal beliefs of an educator must be presented to students. So I listened to the tape. And I called the paper. And I e-mailed the ACLU.

As you?ve probably noticed, to this point, I?ve taken no issue with Mr. Aulenbacher. Sure, he may have made a mistake by inviting Stenzel into his school, but I still thought he was a pretty stand-up guy.? Then he called me out of class and expressed what he thought of me. That he was disappointed, that I should get over it because I was the only one who was angry, and ?how would you like it if I called your college? and all the rest I?m sure you?ve heard from the local media.

I was shocked. Mr. Aulenbacher, as I said earlier, was someone I have generally placed a great deal of trust in and respected, even when his policies have conflicted with mine. After working with a group of people including the great Ed Rabel, Cheri Callaghan, Mike Callaghan, representatives of WV Free and countless others, I decided that this couldn?t stand.

Prior to my ?big announcement? this morning, CNN contacted me (yes, THEY contacted ME) and asked me to do an interview. I agreed, on the basis that they would focus on the issue of effective sex education. I didn?t want to slam my principal on national television and had no intention of doing so. I didn?t seek out that interview, and, had this issue not been so important to me, I never would have agreed to do it. I then utilized local media to announce my request for Mr. Aulenbacher?s resignation.

This is where it gets sticky. This is where people get mad. This is where people say ?she?s got another agenda and has gone too far.?

I don?t blame you.

Why would a student who has otherwise been compliant make such a bold request for the removal of her principal from her school right before graduation? Why wouldn?t I just settle for my ?fifteen minutes of fame? and move on with my life?

Because I don?t want this to happen again.

I don?t want girls to feel hurt because they?ve had sex, or been molested, or even considered having sex. I don?t want someone who skews facts to present to my student body a majorly slanted view of what it means to have intercourse. I want the sexual health of GW to improve, and not be set back.

I recognize that abstinence is the most effective method of birth control and STD prevention. I?m definitely not in favor of everyone having sex. I?d just much rather be addressed with the facts so, if and when members of the student body decide to have sex, they?re informed. Abstinence-only education has been proven ineffective. West Virginia has the 9th highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. I want us to do better.

I still respect Mr. Aulenbacher and I wish him only the best. My concern here is the safety of the sexual atmosphere of George Washington High School. I condone abstinence, I think it?s the only way to be 100% safe, but not 100% of GW?s students will abstain. For that reason, our school should give them the tools to be safe.”

Read more about Katelyn Campbell’s story:

High Schooler Protests ?Slut-Shaming? Abstinence Assembly Despite Alleged Threats From Her Principal

GW student asks for injunction against principal over speaker

Flyer passed out to teachers at George Washington High School about the assembly:

Young Women Deserve Better: V-Girls Leader Audri Roybal on One Billion Rising

By Audri Roybal, V-Girls Action Team Member, One Billion Rising Santa Fe Organizer

For many reasons this event had a huge impact on my life and my community in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I remember when Cecile Lipworth, Managing Director of V-Day, came to me with the idea of ONE BILLION RISING. The statistic scared me, being 7 months pregnant with a baby girl, the 1 out of 3 women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime was a big shock. I realized before this was a problem but now it rang even louder in my head. Something had to be done for my daughter and her generation of young women. They deserve better.

One billion, initially I could not comprehend what exactly that even looked like. One Billion Women and the men that love them dancing, RISING, seemed impossible and at best a far-fetched idea. I wasn?t sure how it would all work, but it did. February 14 2013, our world shifted. Something changed and I can now see it, my mission is far clearer then what it was before.

Our RISING in Santa Fe consisted of a day full of events to empower the women and men of our community, we gathered and danced outside our State capitol building, we passed two memorials in both the House and the Senate for One Billion Rising day and we watched live streaming of risings all over the world. Our 2,000 people that gathered was a small contribution to the bigger picture but we managed and changed so many lives that day.
I had the honor of being involved in a group meeting of 25 OBR coordinators from 14 different places across the globe. Sitting down at this table with Eve, the VDay Staff and 25 strangers, I had no idea how or why I was brought to this table and I had no idea who these people were.

We began with introductions, where you are from, your name and something nobody would know about you. The woman responsible for the Violence Against Women Act from Washington D.C., an actor/ public icon from Lima, Peru, the woman responsible for eliminating most practices of female genital mutilation in Gambia, three Italian women, Eve, and so many other amazing individuals. After watching presentations on all the risings we successfully touched our world and opened the doors of change.

Audri Roybal & International One Billion Rising Organizers Meet in NYC

The meeting helped me to see how we truly have to continue to spark ideas in order for our world to change, it is going to take time and work to reverse the ideals we have brought up generations of people to. My hope and dream for the world that my daughter will grow up in, is a world where women are loved and respected in all aspects of their being. Being present at the table with the rest of the OBR coordinators gave me hope that someday this world will be just that. With enough effort and time from every individual at that table and the people in their inner circles. We can make a difference, and while it may be a small 2,000 people it is a difference, one way or another. Our one billion rising shifted us all and I am proud to say we are continuing to rise and 2014 will be our time to strike back. This isn?t over. WE ARE RISING, because our girls deserve better.