Well, today is Valentine’s day; the day when we in the West celebrate romantic love . The day is named for St Valentine, a priest in Rome during the reign of the Emperor Claudius who had decreed that young people were not allowed to marry. Claudius felt that unmarried soldiers fought better if they did not have to worry about wives or families left behind. Valentine broke this edict, and secretly married the young soldiers who came to him with their beloveds, however Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for this. He was sentenced to execution by beating, stoning, and decapitation. Asterius, one of Valentine’s jailers, had a daughter who was blind; Valentine is said to have prayed with the young girl and healed her resulting in Asterius, his family and household becoming Christians. Before his execution Valentine wrote a note to Asterius’ daughter, and his last words to her were “from your Valentine”, which inspired the romantic cards, given and received down to this day. So, romance, courage, and a horrible gory end for Valentine – a far cry from the cards, flowers and chocolates we give to our Valentines!
Well, perhaps not, because since 2012 the 14th of February has also been dedicated to One Billion Rising, a campaign to challenge the very real violence affecting 1 in 3 women throughout the world who are physically abused, sexually abused, or raped at some point in their lifetime. It is a very stark juxtaposition; one arranged to make us think about romance, and how badly it can end. It is hoped that over the years to come, eventually one billion women will rise up on this day and show how firmly they stand against gender based violence. As I ran through social media today, and listened to the news, there were lots of articles, posts and memes for Valentine’s Day, but little for One Billion Rising. Women across the world have organised events to raise awareness of the injustice women experience daily, and this violence is at epidemic proportions, yet few see these actions. Let’s try to remedy that now, and send this far and wide to help spread the word. Take a look at these links to today’s One Billion Rising:
And, importantly, we must remember the men who respect and nurture women; treating us as equals in building our lives and families; communities and businesses:
Please join the Rising in 2018, and help women reach One Billion, and with the raising of awareness help eliminate violence against women and girls throughout the world.