ONE BILLION RISING. According to Monique Wilson, injustice and the culture of impunity are at the core of the prevalent violence committed against women and children. Photo by Raisa Serafica/Rappler

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MANILA, Philippines – What would one billion individuals who are rising for justice look like? On February 14, the whole world might get an answer. One year ago, people from all over the world danced in protest against all forms of violence on women and children through the first One Billion Rising movement.

This year on Valentines Day, 207 countries are geared to stage a rerun. But this time, they are determined to make it bigger. Together with the Gabriela Women’s party, Migrante, Salinlahi and other local groups, the Philippines will again partake in the 2014 One Billion Rising, a global movement condemning injustice and the culture of impunity.

Rising for justice

The organizers of the campaign say more must be done to stop violence and harassment against women and children. Speaking at the press conference for this year’s One Billion Rising movement, Monique Wilson, world coordinator for the global movement, said that one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

According to the Philippine Commission on Women, rape is the third most reported incident among all cases of violence against women in the country. Meanwhile, Sanlinlahi’s Karlo Manano said they receive reports of women and children in calamity areas illegally trafficked and forced into prostitution.

“Part of our advocacy is for the Yolanda, Pablo and Zamboanga siege victims. Up to now, people are still in evacuation centers and it makes women more vulnerable since there are unscrupulous recruiters that have been targeting them,” Gabriela Women’s party Rep. Luz Ilagan added.

Also justice

Last year, the biggest corruption scandal involving the alleged collusion of some lawmakers and private individuals pocketing billions of government funds rocked the nation. For all of these, advocates blame the lack of justice in the government.

Ang justice issues natin ngayon ay mas malalim na. We recognize that a lot of the violence committed against women and girls is really caused by injustice and state neglect,” Wilson said. (The justices issues today are deeper.) So on February 14, participants will swarm to public venues and government agencies that have “denied them justice.”

Dance protest

Activists rising for justice will eschew the usual banners and placards in favor of a creative dance routine, hoping to engage more people and raise awareness on violence against women. “Dancing engages people. It’s a protest and at the same time celebratory,” Wilson said. Participants will march to the University of the Philippines in Diliman for the main protest action. Stages will also be set up in other key cities of the country like Baguio, Iloilo, Legaspi and Zamboanga. The Philippines will be the third country to launch the event, next to New Zealand and Australia. In other countries, individuals will be rising for issues of injustices unique to their country. According to Wilson, in Peru, people are rising against sexual harassment while in Miami and Atlanta, people are fighting against sex trafficking.

Beyond numbers

For Wilson, the success of the event does not depend on the number of attendees.

It’s not even about the number. Alam niyo kung pwede naming laliman yung mga issues at may ma-engage na hindi pa natin na-engage before, measure na yun na malawak na [ang] na-reach natin.”

(It’s not even about the number. If we are able to make sense of the issues and engage people for the first time, that would be enough to gauge our success) –