AMHERST – Women and those who love them rose up throughout the world on Thursday to protest violence against women, and Amherst was no exception.
About 70 people, both men and women, took part in the One Billion Rising campaign held Thursday at noon at Amherst Town Hall.
“This is an act of solidary demonstrating the commonality of women’s struggles and their power in numbers,” said Amherst mayor Robert Small. “It’s a refusal to accept violence…and usher in a new time and a new way of being.”
Recent statistics show that one in three women on the planet, or about one billion women, will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.
It is the 15th anniversary of the One Billion Rising event, but the first year Amherst has participated.
Small said it’s a worldwide problem that needs to be addressed
“Some countries think that this (violence against women) is an acceptable practice and, obviously, I’m a strong believer that it is not,” added Small. “This is an opportunity for women to say enough is enough, and for men to be men and, at the same time, allow women to be women.”
The event featured a dance and a prayer.
Led by the YMCA’s Laura Coleman, participants danced to a song called ‘Break the Chain,” a song about freedom, love and treating women with respect.
The prayer was called, ‘The Man Prayer,’ which 17 men from throughout the community read to the assembled crowd.
The prayer is about how men can have the courage to be more vulnerable and less domineering.
Fourteen-year-old Spencer Acton, of Sackville, was one of the readers.
His line was second from last, and said, ‘May I cherish, respect and love my mother.”
Asked what the line means to him, Acton said, “Sometimes I feel I don’t treat my mom the best, the way I should. I should respect my mom, and so should everybody else.”
Ruth Currie and Judi Giroux are two of the several committee members who organized the event.
“There was a lot of good energy here and everybody came with the intention to make change,” said Currie.
“It will help spread the word,” added Giroux.
Asked if they will do it again next year, Giroux said, “It will be an annual event until we don’t have to (because violence against women ends).”
They thanked all the participants.
“I give a great big thank you to all the men who came out and took part in the Man Prayer,” said Giroux.
“A lot of people came out," added Currie. “It’s such a generous and supportive community.”