This Valentine's Day, San Francisco is hosting a seemingly a-typical Cupid event, yet one that's probably more compelling than any Hallmark bouquet you might get.
For the second year in a row, city leaders will welcome "One Billion Rising for Justice Day," a global campaign spanning 207 countries that raises awareness of domestic and sexual abuse against women. One Billion Rising began in 2013 in response to the alarming statistic that one in three women throughout the world will experience sexual or domestic abuse in their lives. The campaign invites survivors of abuse and their allies to join in solidarity to fight against the oppression and humiliation inflicted upon victims.On Feb. 14, from 4-6 pm, thousands are expected to gather at City Hall in San Francisco to dance in support of One Billion Rising. The evening will include musical performances by the Black Eyed Peas and Taiko Drummers from Ruth Asawa SF School of the Arts. There will be appearances by many city leaders, including Mayor Ed Lee, District Attorney George Gascón,V-Day Executive Director Susan Celia Swan, Commission on the Status of Women President Nancy Kirschner-Rodriguez and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. Last week, Chiu proposed a resolution confirming the city's adoption of "One Billion Rising for Justice day" this year. The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the resolution tomorrow at their regular board meeting. Mariya Taher, the Community Liaison Manager at Women Organized to Make Abuse Nonexistent (WOMAN Inc.), an agency that helps victims of domestic abuse in San Francisco, says she thinks that the "One Billion Rising for Justice Day" is a necessary reminder that gender discrimination happens right here in San Francisco. "The well-known statistic that 1 in every 3 women will be a victim of gender violence is a horrible reality and this also means that the likelihood of you knowing someone who is a survivor of gender violence and/or sexual assault is very real," says Taher. In conjunction with the event, VDAY has organized a free legal clinic at UC Hastings to consult survivors of domestic and sexual assault. Throughout the day, volunteer attorneys will provide legal advice to survivors of abuse who are facing problems, including employment and immigration issues. Taher says that the importance of recognizing and eliminating violence in the city is a community effort. She concedes that domestic abuse and sexual assault not only affect women, but are also on the rise in the LGBTQ community in San Francisco. Although the event draws attention to the prevalence of sexual assault, it is also a time to "celebrate the strength of survivors who have undergone these experiences. "It is a global movement, and it's time to dance in protest of the violence that occurs in our communities today," says Taher.