Hundreds gather in Duncan City Square for One Billion Rising [video]

Marnie de Montford wants women's rights respected and protected.

Marnie de Montford wants women’s rights respected and protected.

The Grade 6 student from Discovery Elementary School was among hundreds of people of all ages who attended the annual One Billion Rising event in Duncan on March 8.

She said women should have the same rights as everyone else across the globe.

“I think recognizing women’s rights is a huge deal, and everyone should participate in events like this to draw attention to that,” de Montford said as scores of students from Discovery Elementary School and Queen Margaret’s School raised their hands in support as they entered Duncan City Square to join hundreds of others who gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

“It’s great that so many people are here today.”

People come together from the Cowichan Valley once a year at the local One Billion Rising event to dance and express joy, community and celebrate the fact that, together, violence can be defeated.

The events, held around the world, are calls to action based on the staggering statistics of abuse against women that state that about one in three women around the world will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes..

With the world population currently at about seven billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls.

The Duncan event is hosted in partnership by Cowichan Intercultural Society, Cowichan Women Against Violence, Matraea Centre, and Cowichan Spirit of Women.

Kendra Thomas, from Warmland Women’s Support Services Society, said International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate what has been accomplished in regards to women’s rights around the globe, and the challenges that remain to be tackled.

She specifically singled out changing laws in Russia, where she said 9,000 women were killed by their “intimate partners” in 2013, as a major challenge that must be faced.

“Russia is currently decriminalizing violence to family members if no bodily harm is caused,” she said.

“It will be an offence that will require only a fine if there are no broken bones or stitches involved in the violence. How is it in this day and age that it’s possible that any nation can take a step backwards into the Middle Ages and say it’s not a crime for someone to do this to their spouse?” Thomas asked.