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Dance rhythm raises awareness

2/12/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

Community members and Fort Hays State University students danced to end injustice Monday in order to raise awareness about gender-related violence.

Organized by FHSU's Women's Leadership Project, One Billion Rising is an international dance movement that takes place in 88 different countries. It is the first year Hays was added to the list. The campaign was created as a way to combat as a global call to women survivors of violence.

"Until the most marginalized are held in the center," said Sadie Lungren, WLP student coordinator, "until the dots are connected, the silence is broken and the story is told ... until women rise in the knowledge of their rights, until we refuse to accept any thing that does not include all, one billion will rise for justice."

FHSU's Tiger Debs, Styles Dance Studio and the Hays High School dance team created routines in honor of women victimized around the world.

"Women make up 50 percent of the world's population, but represent 70 percent of the world's poor," Lungren said. "One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That's 1 billion women.

Brenda Meder, director of Hays Arts Council, is hosting an art exhibition throughout the month of February with a similar purpose.

Jana's Campaign, in partnership with FHSU's Leadership 310 class and Africa-based Victims2Survivors, organized the In the Name of Love art exhibition dedicated to gender-based violence.

"In a single year, an estimated 150 million girls are victims of sexual violence," Meder said. "Fifty percent are until the age of 15. One in four college women across the nation are victims of gender-based violence."

Hem Matsi, co-founder of Victims2Survivors, shared why she rises against gender-related violence.

"I rise for the women who are abused everyday but can't talk about it because we aren't supposed to talk about gender-based violence," Matsi said. "I rise for that young girl, that young bride who is forced into young marriage, but is not given fundamental human rights.

"I rise for those who are killed by their loved ones, or those who thought were their loved ones, because after all, love doesn't hurt. ... All of us should rise as one voice."

Approximately 50 people attended the event in Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center at FHSU.

After the dance performances, the Tiger Debs taught the audience members a dance to the song "Shake it Out" by Florence + the Machine.

In order to rise against gender-based violence, the FHSU Panhellenic Council has adopted the Circle of Sisterhood as its local philanthropy project. The organization builds schools for girls in poverty, and funds are being raised to build a school in west Africa. A fundraiser will take place in April.

Jana's Campaign and Victims2Survivors also are accepting donations.

• A video of the event can be viewed by clicking here.