SAN FRANCISCO—When Marily Mondejar spoke out about her abusive marriage, she was ostracized. She then left the Philippines and had to start a new life as a single mother in San Francisco.
More than two decades later Mondejar, now the president of the Filipina Women’s Network, hopes that an upcoming event on Valentine’s Day will help women in similar situations to find the courage to speak out and seek support.
For “One Billion Rising” on Feb. 14, San Francisco will join thousands of cities, towns, and villages in 197 countries to raise awareness about violence against women.
The campaign draws its name from a United Nations statistic that one out of every three women or girls will be subjected to rape or violence in their life.
Events in San Francisco include a dance across the Golden Gate Bridge, dancing in front of Grace Cathedral, and a main event at City Hall that Mayor Ed Lee and other dignitaries will attend.
“I will dance for every victim and survivor of social violence in San Francisco and to raise awareness that every woman and girl can live free of fear and violence,” said Mondejar.
On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors voted to mark Feb. 14 “One Billion Rising Day.” At a press conference prior to the board meeting, several city officials spoke in support of the event, including Board President David Chiu.
I will dance for every victim and survivor of social violence in San Francisco and to raise awareness that every woman and girl can live free of fear and violence.
—Marily Mondejar, president, Filipina Women’s Network
The event is organized by V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls, founded by playwright Eve Ensler 15 years ago.
“San Francisco will rise along with the global community to say: Enough, this violence against women must end now,” said Susan Celia Swan, executive director of V-Day. She called the event a “global social action.”
After V-Day announced the event a year ago the response was “overwhelming” Swan said. In certain places attendees might dance at home due to weather or safety reasons. However, to their surprise, women groups in the Somali capital Mogadishu announced they will dance in the streets, Swan said.
Julie Soo, president of the city’s Commission on the Status of Women, said while there were 4,000 cases of domestic violence cases reported in the city, last year was the first time in a decade there was no domestic homicide.
District Attorney George Gascón said his office has seen an increase in calls for shelters and calls to domestic violence hotlines, while the number of cases being prosecuted has risen as well.
“It is a problem that is not abating, it’s a problem that continues to be,” he said.
Expressing his support for the event, Gascón joked at the press conference that he will be dancing salsa on Feb. 14, which will be “quite a sight.”
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