La Crosse joins global dance strike

Published On: Feb 14 2013 05:58:29 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 14 2013 06:19:49 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Women and men across the world danced Thursday to protest violence against women, including right here in La Crosse.

More than a hundred locals participated in a rally and dance strike at City Hall.

It was part of a global action called One Billion Rising. The idea behind it is that one in three women around the world will be raped or beaten -- that's 1 billion women. The goal was to get 1 billion women and men dancing together across the world to show they've had enough.

It’s a cause that got the local event’s organizer, Dorothy Her, running down the street -- wearing stilettos -- in February.

"I am someone who has gone through domestic violence as well. And so it really touches home for me," said Her.

She's also an advocate at the Hmong Mutual Assistance Association for assault and domestic-violence victims.

"Obviously, domestic violence happens in every community and it also happens in the Hmong community, even though we may not hear about it a lot,” said Her. “No one really talks about it. People know, but it's very under the carpet."

But not on Thursday.

“The theme is 'Strike, dance, rise.' And dancing is a way to express yourself freely," said Her.

"I think it's a really positive way to protest such a negative issue, actually,” said UW-L freshman Jade Baumgartner, who came to Thursday’s rally. “We're very unaware of it, I feel like, as a society. Or we ignore it. And I feel like that needs to stop."

"I think it's very empowering to see that so many people around the world are taking part in this. And we are too, in La Crosse," said Her.

Xong Xiong, the executive director of the Hmong Mutual Assistance Association, gave a fiery speech right before they started dancing this afternoon. She encouraged the people there to contact their legislators and tell them to stand up for women's rights.

The global initiative was spearheaded by international women's-rights activist Eve Ensler. To learn more about it, go to onebillionrising.org.