GLOUCESTER women and men gathered to rise up and speak out against violence against women and girls on Thursday as part of the One Billion Rising campaign.
This is part of a global movement and is for anyone who shares the desire for them to live in a country and a society that supports them to fulfil their potential and live their lives without fear.
Many of us were shocked and moved by the case of Jyoti Singh who was brutally abducted, raped and murdered in Delhi last December.
But here in the UK, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.
We are rising to say that we can no longer tolerate a society where women are not safe from violence.
We gathered at the Docks where we used music and dance to express our positive hope that this violence can be brought to an end.
Thangam Debbonaire called on men to speak out when they see or hear behaviour from their friends that threatens women and girls.
Later that night we marched through the city centre on a Slutwalk to protest against victim-blaming.
Rape is an act of violence and not sex and no victim invites attack.
Why is it important that we rise here in Gloucestershire?
Regular readers will know that stories of violence and abuse feature on the pages of this paper far too often.
Yet this is only a small part of what is happening around us.
The following figures show that violence is an everyday occurrence in our county and our city.
â On average Gloucestershire identifies 12 cases of victims at high risk of domestic abuse every week.
â Gloucestershire Constabulary recorded in the region of 6,200 incidents over a 12 month period
â 24% of reported sexual offences to Gloucestershire Constabulary are domestic related.
â Of those domestic abuse incidents reported to the police which became crimes, 76 per cent involved female victims
â About 70% of children on child protection plans are as a result of witnessing domestic abuse in the household.
It is time for us to speak up and speak out about what is happening.
One in four women will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime, maybe a friend or a relative of yours is suffering from this now.
Since I started to organise this event I have been moved by the number of people who have felt able to share their experiences with me.
Survivors of violence, sexual assault and rape have come forward to say that they want to share the opportunity to speak out and rise up.
Next year I hope you will join us.