The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 13, 2013

Flash dance at Joplin library shines light on violence against women

JOPLIN, Mo. — Participants in a flash dance that will take place today along Main Street in Joplin are aiming to stop violence against women and girls.

The outdoor dance will be staged as part of One Billion Rising, an international movement held in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of V-Day. The “V” in V-Day, a global activist event recognized each Feb. 14, stands for victory, valentine and vagina. It was inspired by Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues.”

The concept of this year’s campaign is to encourage 1 billion women around the world to rally against violence, which includes rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery, according to the group. The campaign’s website estimates that one out of every three women, or about 1 billion women on the planet, will experience violence in her lifetime.

“It matters that 1 billion of our daughters, our sisters, our mothers, our friends, our grandmothers” will be affected by violence against them, said Shelli Jones, an organizer of the Joplin event. “It matters because we matter.”

One Billion Rising will take place around the world today in the form of flash mobs, groups of people who have learned a choreographed dance and who perform that dance in public. Joplin’s event is scheduled over the lunch hour at the public library. According to the campaign, dancing will be used to raise awareness because “it’s dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive; it breaks the rules; it can happen anywhere at any time with anyone and everyone; it’s free; it’s contagious and it spreads quickly.”

Stacey Sarakinis, another local organizer, said everyone is invited to participate in the flash mob. Dance instructions for the choreography are available at onebillionrising.org, but knowing the routine is not a prerequisite for participating, she said.

“Just come on down and just dance with us and show support,” she said.

Sarakinis, of Joplin, said she and Jones signed on to the event after searching for a way to become involved in V-Day locally and finding that an opportunity hadn’t already been planned.

“I had looked all over Joplin, trying to see (if) we were going to get involved,” she said. “When I couldn’t find anything ... Shelli and I pulled it together.”

Sarakinis said she got involved with V-Day to aid the voiceless women who have been victims of violence.

“I am one of those ‘one in three’ women,” she said. “I’ve seen it firsthand. I know there’s a lot of women out there where things have happened, and they’re either ashamed or afraid. I’m maybe trying to be the voice of the people who are ashamed or afraid.”

Sarakinis said she hopes for a strong turnout, but that even a small number of participants could take a stand and make a difference.

“It’s kind of a ripple in a pond,” she said, “and I’ve concluded if it’s only Shelli and I ... it’s really all about making the awareness.”

Time and place

A ONE BILLION RISING FLASH DANCE MOB will be staged at 12:30 p.m. today on the front lawn of the Joplin Public Library, 300 S. Main St.

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