New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Washington Square Park flash mob raises awareness about domestic violence

Jordan McAfee-Hahn for WSN


Washington Square Park erupted yesterday afternoon with a flash dance mob championing the fight against violence toward women and girls.

Yesterday’s event was called One Billion Rising, and it marked the 15th anniversary of V-Day, which is an international campaign started in New York City by Eve Ensler, the author of “The Vagina Monologues.” The rising occurred in 203 countries and involved an original dance and anthem called “Break the Chain” by Tena Clark.

Cathryn Swan, the organizer of the Washington Square Park flash mob, said the dance was an energetic shift to spread awareness about violence against women. One would think that, because one in every three women is raped or beaten in her lifetime, this would be a publicized issue, but Swan said this was not the case.

“Other than certain high-profile cases that you hear about, [violence against women] is very quiet for the most part,” Swan said.

But over its 15 years, V-Day has garnered a celebrity following — Anne Hathaway, Robert Redford, Thandie Newton and several others have endorsed and participated in risings. Even New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his support for the campaign.

“One Billion Rising is an act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers,” he said. “Here in New York, we have the opportunity to rise above and pass the Women’s Equality Agenda, which contains important protections for women to improve the health, safety and economic wellbeing of every woman and her family in this state.”

Violence against women is an issue that hits home for Mellicent Dayne, 46, who participated in the Washington Square Park dance. She believes the campaign is about mental and physical violence.

“A bruise can heal, but the mind takes longer,” she said.

V-Day said in its mission statement that it will continue to host risings until women are no longer under constant threat of violence.

Veronica Carchedi is city state editor. Email her at [email protected].

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