Nirbhaya the play and why you should ‘raise your hand’ | ActionAid UK

Listening to the testimonies of survivors of sexual violence may be hard - but it’s nothing compared to going through it. 

Cast and director of the play Nirbhaya by the ActionAid 'FEARLESS' installation
Cast and director of the play Nirbhaya by the ActionAid 'FEARLESS' installation

On Wednesday and Thursday evening I joined colleagues at London's Southbank Centre to set up the ActionAid ‘FEARLESS’ installation and - for the first time - to see the play myself. We're there to urge people to ‘raise their hand’ as part of a global voice to end violence against women.

I don’t want to talk about everything that happens during the play. I'd urge you to see it for yourself – either during its run at the Southbank Centre as part of the Women of the World festival or even during its forthcoming tour in India - and hopefully beyond.

It tackles issues of violence against women and girls through the personal testimonies of its actors. Let me tell you, it’s not an easy watch but it is necessary viewing. 

The audience stood up to say 'enough is enough'

What I saw after the play was a highly engaged and understandably outraged audience. They wanted to stand up and show their support, as well as share their own personal stories of sexual violence with the audience and on the 'FEARLESS wall'. You know a play that can do that is something special.

The huge volume of people who have added their messages of support and shared their personal stories is inspiring. We have to #BreakTheSilence. We have to do it together - and do it globally.

Old and young, men and women joined hands

The brutality of the attack on Nirbhaya – Jyoti Singh – was a tipping point for people’s rage about violence against women and girls. Women in Delhi felt that this could have happened to any one of them.

The events in the aftermath of the attack snowballed into unprecedented public agitation. Old and young, men and women, rich and poor joined hands to express this anguish. It’s important to keep this momentum going.

One year on from the attack, has anything changed in India (pdf download)?

International Women’s Day

This Saturday is International Women’s Day. Across the world, women's rights advocates will be coming together to work for women's equality. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #IWD2014.

ActionAid will be at London's Southbank Centre, accompanying the Nirbhaya play and raising our voices against violence against women. We want you to join us, and ‘raise your hand’ to end violence against women.

If you can’t make it to the Southbank Centre visit us on Facebook and Twitter to leave your message of support. Or you might want to tweet us to let us know about the woman who most inspires you.

It is a shocking that one in three women will experience violence in their lifetimes - just for being a woman.

That is why ActionAid focuses on ending violence against women all around the world, because we know violence traps women, their families and whole communities in poverty.

*There are many great organisations working to help survivors of sexual violence and striving to end it for good. During the course of Nirbhaya the play we’ve been working next to the great volunteers from Victim Support. We would encourage anyone in the UK who is facing these issues to seek them out.