The Utah Capitol hosted a different sort of Valentine's Day dance Thursday not for couples in love, but for scores dancing to raise awareness about how 1 of every 3 women in the world is raped or beaten in her lifetime, about 1 billion of all those now living.
"It matters so much to raise your voice ... and demand action," House Democratic Leader Jennifer Seelig, D-Salt Lake City, told the dancers.
The protesters/dancers mostly women, many dressed in pink, from babies to grandmothers were just a sample of what global organizers hoped would be millions dancing at similar events planned in 203 countries. Other dances or flash mobs in Utah also were held at the University of Utah, the IKEA store in Draper and Centro Civico Mexicano.
"It is in our connectedness, in our stomping feet and uncontrollable hips that the path and energy will be created to bring in a new world," Eve Ensler, a playwright who founded the One Billion Rising movement, said in a statement issued to participants worldwide.
On steps outside the Utah Capitol, about 200 people line-danced together to the rock anthem of the day entitled, "Break the Chain," urging an end to violence from sex trafficking to rape and abuse. They held a massive group hug afterward.
Tammy Brooke of Syracuse held her 3-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, as they twirled together to the music and three of Brooke's four other daughters also attended and were dancing. "I brought them to show we have a voice, and that you don't have to put up with violence," Brooke said.
"Let's not rest until every girl and every woman in every home in every community and every land is safe and free and able to flourish," said Anne Burkholder, CEO of the YWCA in Salt Lake City.
The dancers also sought action from legislators including pushing for passage of HB50 by Seelig to allow people to seek protective orders against people they have dated. Currently, such orders are only available against spouses or former live-in partners.
Some also were urging legislators to support a request in Gov. Gary Herbert's budget for $474,700 to help 12 domestic violence shelters.
"They provide shelter services, crisis intervention, outreach and education. Due to inadequate funding in the last couple of years, our statewide capacity has been reduced. So we're seeing more people turned away, but a greater need," said Kendra Wyckoff, education coordinator for the Utah Domestic Violence Council.
She said more than 3,100 people were served in shelters last year, and more than half were children. She said more than 1,000 requests for shelter from domestic violence involving 2,200 adults and children could not be met because shelters were full.