V-Day: Powerful protest sheds light on a grim statistic

It’s a day that signifies love for so many.

But on Valentine’s Day, one group is continuing to call out the tragically high proportion of girls and women who experience abuse or violence throughout their life.

Gabrielle Griffin is one of organisers of the V Day flashmob protest, to be held at Byron Bay’s Main Beach from 6.30am on Sunday, February 14.

Ms Griffin said the annual event was first organised by Byron Shire’s citizen of the year, Zenith Virago, nine years ago.

“It all was started by Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues,” Ms Griffin said.

“She decided to start this movement, One Billion Rising.”

This came from the United Nations statistic that one in three women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime.

“All around the world on Valentine’s Day, women all around the world come together and do this dance (and) protest against violence against women and children,” she said.

“Men are totally welcome but come to the sidelines or come with a woman, come with a friend.

“It’s about empowering women to stand up, be visible, be heard.”

She said the group will dance to a song, then take a swim in the ocean if conditions are safe.

“It’s just about coming together as a community,” she said.

“I think generally there’s a greater awareness in the community of not needing to be ashamed and (speaking out) the whole Me Too movement is a great example of that.”

But with tensions high as communities deal with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, she said it was still as important as ever to speak out.

“We’re trying to make the world a better place,” she said.

“It’s a great empowering day.

“For some women it’s very moving to be seen as a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“It can be very validating, to say ‘yes that happened to me too but here I am, I survived’.”

V-Day Byron Bay will held from 6.30am Sunday, with the dance from 7am. All welcome.

Ms Griffin said the Vagina Conversations sessions, at Byron Theatre from 7.30pm on Monday and Tuesday, had almost sold out. Proceeds go to the Women’s Resource Service – Byron Escape Fund.