Kamloops group working to end violence against women

Courtney Dickson, Roving Editor Ω

Carver Stewart, Jon Ibsen, Gabrielle Putoto and Megan Graham sit with the "These Hands Don't Hurt Women" banner. They are four of the many young people involved with V-Day. - Photo by Courtney Dickson

Carver Stewart, Jon Ibsen, Gabrielle Putoto and Megan Graham sit with the “These Hands Don’t Hurt Women” banner. They are four of the many young people involved with V-Day. – Photo by Courtney Dickson

The Kamloops DISH (Dames Investing in Social Harmony) Society is hoping to raise awareness about domestic violence against women leading up to V-Day, a global movement for the same cause, on Feb. 14.

Young women are particularly at risk of domestic violence, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Women between the ages of 15 and 24 are killed almost three times more often than women of all ages as a result of domestic homicide and 66 per cent of female victims of sexual assault are under the age of 24.

The Vagina Monologues performances will take place Feb. 14, 15 and 16 at the Kamloops Convention Centre, where they will raise money for Interior Community Services, Kamloops Family Tree and Immigrant Services, all of which are committed to ending violence against women.

“Every dollar raised from ticket sales will go to one of the three beneficiaries,” said Rebecca MacLean, Chair of the Kamloops DISH Society.

MacLean, a TRU alumnus, got involved with the Vagina Monologues in 2007.

The Vagina Monologues was held at TRU from 2007 to 2009, but was moved to the convention centre in 2010 in order for more people to attend and to attract a broader audience.

“Everybody has women in their lives that they love,” MacLean said. “We realize that we have to be able to engage men if we want to continue.”

Men are getting involved with the movement. They volunteer to act as ushers for the evening and are called “Bobs.” “Bob” symbolizes a man who, as Teresa Parisone, a director at DISH described, “loves vaginas and would never hurt women.”

Young people are getting involved with V-Day and the Vagina Monologues. Carver Stewart, Jon Ibsen, Gabrielle Putoto and Megan Graham, all four under age 30, worked the DISH table at Aberdeen Mall on Saturday, Jan. 26. They asked men (and women) to leave their handprints on a banner that read, “These Hands Don’t Hurt Women.”

“The youngest board member at DISH is 19 years old, so her presence helps attract younger people,” Parisone said.

Originally written in 1996 by Eve Ensler, the Vagina Monologues have become a safe venue for women to express themselves. V-Day was incorporated into the performances in 1998 to raise money and awareness surrounding the problem of violence against women.

“A lot of people are afraid to come to the monologues because they think that they are filled with anger,” Parisone said, “but that’s not how we operate.

“Sometimes the monologues are really funny. Sometimes they get intense. Sometimes they can be really sad,” Parisone said.

On Feb. 14 at 11 a.m., the One Billion Rising movement will take place for the first time. Various radio stations will play “The Spirit Indestructible” by Nelly Furtado and listeners are encouraged to stop what they are doing and dance.

“This says we’re done with violence against women,” Parisone said.

“The real goal is to spread awareness,” MacLean said. “We want to make this community part of something global.”