On Christmas day 2011, five-year old Lama al-Ghamdi was hospitalized with a crushed skull, broken back, broken arm, broken ribs, bruising, burns, and horrifying and indisputable evidence that she had be raped, repeatedly. According to the girl’s mother, medical staff reported that her rectum had been torn open and that her abuser had tried to burn it shut. The monster perpetrating the abuse had been no other than her father, Fayhan al-Ghamdi. He confessed to the abuse, disclosing he had beaten her with a cane and electrical cables, and reasoning the acts to a suspicion his daughter was not a virgin. Five-year old Lama succumbed to her wounds 10 months later.
For his crimes Fayhan al-Ghamdi was sentenced to a fine of “blood money” payable to Lama’s
On Feb. 14, at 1:30 p.m. in the courtyard out front of C building, Bellevue College’s Speech and Debate Society, led by coach Denise Vaughan, alongside Amnesty International activists around the world, invited the public to join them for public dance events in support of the ‘One Billion Rising’ movement.
Over 150 students and faculty poured into the courtyard to show their support for ‘One Billion Rising,’ with numerous more stopping to observe the spectacle for the few moments they had before making their way to class.
“I participated today because someone who I respect once told me, ‘you can’t change what you don’t know is wrong, but once you know something is wrong, you have a choice’,” said Joshua Shepherd, a member of BC’s Speech and Debate Society. “I disagree with them. Once you know something is wrong I don’t think you do have a choice, I think you have an obligation to speak out, speak up, and try and fix it.”
“We’re fighting for these women, not just in our society but all across the world who have it even worse than us,” said Pratishtha Chhabra, president of BC Speech and Debate Society. “We’re all together on this day rising up and saying ‘violence against women should stop, it is not okay, we don’t have a choice, we have an obligation as members of our society.’ Once we start ‘otherizing’ women as objects, we do that for everybody, we stop giving value to ourselves.”
Amnesty International is a sponsoring partner of ‘One Billion Rising,’ launched by Eve Ensler, Tony Award-winning author of “The Vagina Monologues.” The movement’s goal is to empower one billion girls and women and their loved ones, to “dance, shake the world and shift the energy” so as to “break the cycle of violence.” Those attending are encouraged to join the cause and “take the pledge” to speak out against violence perpetrated towards women, demand its end and demand abusers be brought to justice.
“Violence against women is one of the world’s most pervasive human rights abuses,” said Cristina Finch, managing director of Amnesty USA’s women’s rights program. “ It’s well past time for meaningful action around the world to stop these abuses.”
According to a press release from Amnesty International, the Senate and the House of Representatives have reintroduced the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a “key piece of legislation” that aims to protect and support women in the United States from terrible acts of violence and exploitation.
Amnesty International is currently the world’s largest grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for their life-saving work, investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.