ONE IN THREE women will experience assault or sexual abuse in their lifetime.
It's an appalling statistic that a worldwide movement known as One Billion Rising aims to attack by getting a billion people on the street dancing on V-Day (today, February 14) and seeking an end to violence against women and girls.
But in order to change attitudes and behaviour, organisers realise they need to include men, not exclude them.
Sharon Brodie from the Richmond Sexual Assault Service said 57% of Australian women will report physical violence of sexual assault against them at least once in their lives.
"The truth is women can't do this on their own. Men who are offending need to take responsibility for their actions and change and good men need to stand with women and say this isn't okay," she said.
"The problem is epidemic... It's not just women changing the way we act, but men and women working together to say violence is not an okay way to deal with conflicts."
V-Day (which stands for "victory, Valentine and vagina") was started by Eve Ensler, writer of the world-renowned play The Vagina Monologues, in 1998. This year, 197 countries have signed up for the event.
A group of Lismore men (including yours truly) got together last week for a photo and to encourage others to get involved.
After a bit of fumbling around we arranged ourselves into a conga line and gave the 'V for victory' sign.
Most of the men had never met before, but got into the spirit of the occasion.
"We want to get the message out to other blokes that this is an opportunity to step up and show your support for all women on Valentine's Day," said Nigel Hayes from Nimbin.
"It is great these events invite men to be involved. It allows all of us who want to see women live freely and safely to stand up and be counted," said Soenke Biermann from Dunoon.
What's on in Lismore?
Lismore Rising is a dance event in the park behind Lismore Transit Centre (cnr Magellan and Molesworth Streets) from 4.30-6pm, organised by Lismore Women's Health Centre and Lismore Council.
Lismore Theatre Company's performance of The Vagina Monologues is on at the Star Court Theatre from 7pm. Tickets are $30. Phone: 6622 5005
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