cityhall3.jpgThe San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to declare Valentine’s Day in San Francisco this year as “One Billion Rising Day” as part of a global movement to end violence against women.

One Billion Rising is an effort to raise awareness about the continuing abuse and rape of women across the world, which on Feb. 14 will be acknowledged at events in 197 countries, including an event at San Francisco City Hall.

The event–open to the public and expected to draw thousands of participants–will feature music, dancing and city officials making a public pledge to end violence.

The awareness campaign falls on Valentine’s Day, which has been reclaimed by women worldwide as “V-Day”–a day for women empowerment and sexual safety founded in 1998 by playwright Eve Ensler, who wrote “The Vagina Monologues.”

At a news conference this morning, District Attorney George Gascon highlighted the campaign’s statistic that worldwide one in three women is beaten or raped during her lifetime.

“I have no patience for this,” he said.

He noted an increase in calls to authorities last year from women in San Francisco seeking help and resources for domestic and sexual violence and alluded to comments made by Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi last year.

“We still have people going around saying this is a ‘private matter’,” Gascon said.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment last March for a New Year’s Eve 2011 incident in which he grabbed his wife’s arm during an argument, causing a bruise.

Mirkarimi was then suspended without pay on official misconduct charges, but he returned to his elected post in October after the city’s Board of Supervisors did not garner enough votes to permanently remove him from office.

In January 2012 at Mirkarimi’s swearing-in as sheriff, he called his case with his wife “a private matter, a family matter,” a comment that continues to be referenced by anti-domestic violence advocates.

Gascon also included a message for men, whom he singled out as equal partners in the fight against domestic violence.

“This event is not just about women,” he said. “Real men do not abuse women.”

Board President David Chiu has proposed the city bring in $750,000 to go toward law enforcement programs and other city agency services that work to end domestic violence.

A resolution about the funding will be heard at the board’s budget committee meeting Wednesday and is expected to make it to the full board on Feb. 12.

“We do not tolerate any violence against our women, our children, our families,” Chiu said at this morning’s news conference.

The V-Day One Billion Rising event will begin at 4 p.m. on Feb. 14 on the Polk Street steps in front of City Hall.

Event organizers said other activities, including a celebration across the Golden Gate Bridge and dancing at Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill, will take place earlier that day.

“The movement was created to show what one billion looks like,” V-Day executive director Susan Swan said this morning.

The movement estimates one billion women and girls are affected by domestic or sexual violence and aims to rise against the staggering statistic.

“One Billion Rising literally take the message to the streets,” Emily Murase, executive director of the city’s Department on the Status of Women, said this morning.

More information about One Billion Rising is available at

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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