One Billion Rising: London flashmob on Valentine's Day as part of global campaign

Chris Parsons

Campaigners have descended on London this Valentine's Day for a 'flashmob dance' in support of One Billion Rising, the global campaign to end violence against women.

Supporters including actress Thandie Newton and Vagina Monologues writer Eve Ensler have backed the huge movement, which claims that one in three women worldwide are subject to violence at some point in their life.

[More pictures: One Billion Rising around the world]

The climax to their campaign came in a series of worldwide events on Valentine's Day, the day after a UN report painted a grim picture of the millions (mostly women) affected by sexual exploitation and forced labour.

A new report said women and girls account for about 75% of trafficking victims globally, and that the offence takes place in 118 countries.

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Worrying statistics declared that the percentage of children involved in trafficking has increased from 20% by 2006 to 27% by 2010.

Of those victims, it is thought that two of every three trafficked children are girls.

One Billion Rising aims to tackle violence against women in all forms, from domestic violence to sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Eve Ensler got the idea for the name from the number of women and young girls alive today who will be raped or attacked.

The flashmob of thousands in London were a small part of the 'one billion' it was hoped would dance on  in the name of ending violence against women.

Women from 190 countries worldwide have signed up, and the campaign in America has gained support from Jane Fonda and Robert Redford.

Actress Thandie Newton led a dancing flashmob outside Parliament, where campaigners demanded new laws to make personal, social and health education, including a zero-tolerance approach to violence and abuse in relationships, a requirement in schools.

Eve Ensler said: "We’ve been on the front lines struggling to end violence against women and girls in all forms in many countries for a long time, and we’ve had victories indeed. 

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"I really do believe we will see at least a billion people rising and dancing to end violence against women and girls on February 14, and I have to say how pleased we are to see how many men have joined us and will be joining us. 

"It’s the first time really in history, I think, of the anti-violence movement we’ve seen so many men participating.

"We have never seen this cross-section of people coming together to rise up to end violence against women.

"We know that in times of 'austerity' or 'economic downturns', violence against women always raises and escalates because of the situation of men feeling humiliated over the lack of income, people being stuck in very difficult situations. 

"Women are always on the front lines of that violence, not to mention the commodification of women in general – the trafficking of women’s bodies, the selling of women for less than a cell phone in parts of the world, the basic devaluing of women and turning them into something to be sold in the marketplace."