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Over 100 gather in Abbotsford for One Billion Rising

More than 100 people gathered as a part of an event in Jubilee Park on Thursday afternoon focused on ending violence against women.

The event, One Billion Rising, takes place around the world, and asks women and men to stand up, speak out and dance to raise awareness about ending violence.

Many local organizations participated in the Abbotsford gathering, including the University of the Fraser Valley, the Abbotsford Area Gogos, GirlKind Foundation, the Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford Community Services and the Fraser Valley Human Dignity Coalition.

Jean Douglas-Webb, who organized the event in Abbotsford's downtown, said she wanted to bring the issues of violence against women to light.

"I want to end the violence."

Webb said that as a grandmother, she wants to see her grandchildren grow up in a better world.

Michele Giordano, co-ordinator of the Warm Zone, spoke to the crowd about recent examples of violence against women in the community.

She cited the recent death of Leanne Friesen, whose estranged husband has been charged with second-degree murder, and the recent arrest of Anton Ellis Foulds for the alleged sexual assault of a teen girl in Abbotsford.

One of the complainants in a sexual assault case presently in trial proceedings stated in an affidavit that she was fearful of testifying in an open court because it would cause her to be shunned by the Indo-Canadian community.

Giordano said the fear of speaking out against violence needs to end.

"I am rising because the silence needs to stop."

The event began at noon, with speakers addressing the various issues of violence against women.

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