BERKELEY -- For the 100 or so women and girls -- and a smattering of male allies -- who danced in Civic Center Park on Thursday afternoon, Valentine's Day wasn't about hearts and candy.
Organizers called the day, replicated in communities throughout the U.S. and in 205 countries, "One Billion Rising," named for the one-in-three women and girls across the globe who will be raped or beaten in their lifetime.
"We have reclaimed Valentine's Day," said Satya Starr, an abuse survivor who participated in the event. "Women actually need to have an end to abuse and rape. That's what they really need, not chocolate and flowers."
In Berkeley, the 39 rapes reported to police in 2012 was nearly double the number reported the previous year and was the highest recorded in the last five years.
One Billion Rising used dance to celebrate women's bodies, which organizers said are often denigrated, and encouraged participants to protest violence against women. As they executed the choreographed movements posted on the One Billion Rising website, many of the dancers sang along to recorded music reverberating through the park: " ... This is my body, my body's holy/ No more excuses, no more abuses ..."
The Berkeley event was organized by 15 year-old Tara White and her mother, Nasi White.
"She gathered mothers and I gathered my friends," the Berkeley High sophomore said. "Mothers and daughters are rising together."
Tara White said
"Women should know we can rise together," the younger White said.
Dawn Schultze-Allen, also from Berkeley High, was at the event with a group of friends.
"It's really important to stand against violence that's happening to millions of women around the world," she said. "It shows that people do really care and showing that we do care is going to make a difference."
In addition to word-of-mouth, the event -- and events across the globe -- was organized through Facebook and the One Billion Rising website.
"It kind of reinforces the notion that social media can make an issue international in a way that couldn't be done by print or by traditional means," said Joe Koppleman, visiting Berkeley from Brooklyn, N.Y.
One Billion Rising was held on the 15th anniversary of the "Vagina Monologues" and comes directly out of the V-Day movement founded by actor and abuse survivor Eve Ensler, whose play celebrates female sexuality. Berkeley High students are performing the "Vagina Monologues" Tuesday and Wednesday at the Florence Schwimley Little Theater.
Marjan Moinzadh came to Civic Center Park from her home in Danville.
"I feel free," she said between dances, "I'm feeling for all women who are experiencing abuse and violence and keeping them in my mind while I'm dancing. I'm sending them energy so maybe they can rise up."