Dancing to stop abuse of women

NIC flash mob part of worldwide anti-violence event

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John Ray, a civil engineer student at North Idaho College, participates in a flash mob dance Thursday in the student union building in celebration of the national event One Billion Rising. The event marks the anniversary of V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.

COEUR d'ALENE - Their moves were as energetic and upbeat as their reason for dancing was sobering.

A lunchtime flash mob grew to about 30-strong Thursday in North Idaho College's Student Union Building. But they were part of something much bigger.

As the rocking and bopping wound down, a young woman stepped up to a microphone.

"One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution," said Ellie Engel.

Engel and Kacey McConagha, 18-year-old first-year students at NIC, organized the campus' participation in One Billion Rising, a global campaign against rape and sexual abuse. With similar activities planned Thursday throughout the U.S. and in 202 other countries, the event is billed as "the largest day of mass action ever to stop violence against women and girls."

The one-day show of solidarity also marks the 15th anniversary of One Billion Rising's parent organization, V-Day, a global activist movement with the same purpose. V-Day supports artistic endeavors that benefit local anti-violence efforts and sheltering programs throughout the world.

McConagha said she read about One Billion Rising in a magazine and thought it was something they should bring to NIC.

"It's a fun way to get the word out," McConagha said. "We've had so much support."

Engel said she's reading "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide," a 2009 book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. She said the book has heightened her awareness of the problem of violence against women and its prevalence, especially in Third World countries. There are many women and girls, she said, who are unable to seek justice for themselves.

"We need to help them find their voices," Engel said.

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