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Dancing against violence

Friday, February 15th, 2013

This is the chronicle of the Flash Mob to raise awareness on violence against women in Patan Durbar square on Thursday afternoon (14 Feb 2013). Pictures by Cindrey Liu and text by Juanita Malagon.

A wedding procession lifted the spirits of the crowd before the flash mob started..

A wedding procession lifted the spirits of the crowd before the flash mob started.

It was 4.30 pm and Patan Durbar Square had its habitual visitors: neighbours, tourists, some foreigners wandering around. There wasn’t any activity planned that afternoon, one lady at the ticket office said firmly.

Participants gathered at Patan Durbar Square right before the flash mob was scheduled to start.

By 5 pm, many participants had gathered at Patan Durbar Square waiting for the flash mob to start.

Shortly before five the square was quickly filling up with people who seemed to know each other, exchanging greetings and chatting among themselves. Cameramen and professional photographers were standing at strategic points of the square. On one side, there were big speakers connected to a laptop from which music for the dance was to be played. All around the square, there were people dressed in pink, red and black. Some were holding banners. To the unknowing passers-by and tourists, they looked suspiciously ready for something to begin.

Suddenly at 5 o’clock sharp, loud music began to play and the mob came together at Mangal Bazaar and started dancing and singing. It was the flash mob ‘Rise, Patan!’ organised by The One Billion Rising movement, a campaign calling for one billion people around the world to raise awareness for violence against women.

More than 500 people participated in the flash mob.

More than 600 people - young and old, male and female -participated in the flash mob.

Diana Hinova, the organiser of the event in Kathmandu, said before the event that she expected at most two hundred people to attend. The invitation was on Facebook and so far more than four hundred had confirmed, but she thought that the Internet commitment was less than solid. She was wrong. More than six hundred people showed up. From local NGOs, international organisations, school teachers, students, housewives to passers-by, they all came to Patan Durbar square to take a stand against gender-based violence in a way that attracts attention: dancing.

Women wearing the campaign T-shirt lead the rest of the participants in the dance.

Women wearing the campaign T-shirt led the rest of the participants in the dance.

Even men joined in the dance to express their support for women's rights.

Even men turned up to express their support for women's rights.

Tourists and common visitors of the square alike watched in awe while the
women and men danced and sang ‘Break the Chain’, the movement’s official song.

Hinova added that Durbar square is a meaningful place for that event, as in Nepali culture there are accepted social and cultural practices against women that would be discussed and then removed from society. Violence takes place within families and at an institutional level and it needs to be exposed.

Caroline V. (withholding her last name by request) working at an international organisation but representing civil society, explained, “Dancing opens yourself up and it’s an expression of joy, the perfect way to show disagreement against violence in a peaceful way.”

The invitation was on Facebook about one month ago. Organisers uploaded a video on Youtube with the dance choreography and some people even rehearsed once a week at Core studio in Kathmandu to prepare for the event.

Tourists take photographs and videos of the flash mob from the Patan Museum.

Tourists took photographs and videos of the flash mob from the Patan Museum.

The result of all that preparation was a scene of Patan Durbar Square filled with people dancing. Even those who didn’t know the steps tried their best. Other than women, a few young girls and men also joined the mob. One man was heard shouting, “I’m for women’s rights!” before jumping into the crowd and breaking into dance.

Participants celebrate and take photographs after the event.

Participants celebrated and took photographs after the event.

In just four minutes, the dance was over and the mob dispersed. The mood was joyful and after the event, the topic of violence against women was at least more visible. The daily life of the square resumed and visitors had another topic to talk about that afternoon: lots of people dancing and speaking out against violence against women.

The initiative was started by American playwright and feminist Eve Ensler to mark the 15th anniversary of the V-day campaign to end violence against women forever.

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2 Responses to “Dancing against violence”

  1. Diana Hinova on Says:

    Thank you for the coverage, it was a great surprise to see so many people!
    Here is the official video of the falshmob, byt hte way:

    Our next action for March 8th is a hand-holding solidarity chain – find details here

  2. Maya on Says:

    Wow, this sounds like a transnational version of Nepal Unites. What’s next? Safari-hunting to end hunger in the Third World? Or maybe roller-skating to stop torture in prisons? Talk about cheapening other people’s tragedies. A sane (but not critical enough) view on the campaign can be found here:

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