Baha'i News -- Events to highlight safety issues for women, children

Events to highlight safety issues for women, children

By: Molly Miron, Staff Writer

September 13, 2002

A combination of events will highlight women's and children's safety issues tonight and Saturday.

Beginning at 7 p.m. today at the Bemidji Public Library, 509 America Ave. N.W., the Teen Outreach Volunteer Program will host Women's Night Out. The event is an evening of music, poetry, dance and stories held in conjunction with Take Back the Night beginning at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Library Park. Take Back the Night will meet in the Bemidji State University Beaux Arts Ballroom in case of rain.

Women's Night Out will feature a coffee house with open microphone and an ambiance of celebration, safety and healing.

Snacks will be served.

Some of the entertainment will be by folksingers Dennis Montgomery and April Larson with music Montgomery has written pertinent to the theme.

Tricia Andrews, Teen Outreach Volunteer Program director, said members of the program also will perform a poem and dance, "The Courage to Heal" by Ellen Bass. A pair of girls will also recite "Too Girls."

The Women's Night Out is in its fifth year.

"Last Year at this event we had more than 70 people, so it went well past 9:30 p.m," Andrews said.

She said program is sponsored by the Land of Lakes Council of Girl Scouts for high school girls. They receive information about such topics as self-esteem, peer pressure, eating disorders, diversity awareness, conflict resolution and body image and serve as mentors for younger girls.

They give age-appropriate presentations, allowing individual girls to share their thoughts and feelings in a safe and comfortable setting. Currently, 15 Bemidji area girls are Teen Outreach members.

"Younger girls tend to listen because these are teen-agers. Teen Outreach can get them thinking about the decisions they're making," Andrews said.

Take Back the Night 2002 on Saturday afternoon and evening will feature speakers, poetry, music, open microphone and a children's program. The theme is Celebrating Survivors.

Long-sleeved T-shirts commemorating the event will be available for sale. Chili, cornbread and beverages will be furnished by Headwaters Unitarian Universalists. Proceeds will benefit the program.

Speakers will include Tammy Larsen, former executive director of the Minnesota Coalition against Sexual Assault. She also has been active for many years with the battered women's movement, said Cynthis Cran, chairwoman for Take Back the Night.

Other speakers will include Beltrami County Sheriff Keith Winger; Audrey Thayer, County Board candidate, on "Empowering Women in Politics"; and Bethany Brett on "Intersectionality: The Intersection Between Sexism, Heterosexism and Gender Oppression."

The Baha'i youth also will perform an equality dance. Cran explained that a tenet of Baha'i faith is the men and women should be equal. The analogy is that they are like the wings of a bird. If one is stronger than the other, the bird will not be able to fly.

The Clothesline Project also will be on display at the event. The project features T-shirts depicting the Minnesota women and children who were murdered in domestic violence. Cran said 33 women and 10 children died last year.

Guests of honor will be the sisters, parents and children of the late Delayn McBride of Roseau County.

"We believe she was murdered in 2001," Cran said. "We believe her boyfriend pushed her out of a pickup at highway speed. It was never proven."

At dusk, the group will march around downtown chanting slogans about ending violence. Cran encouraged participants to create placards to carry.

"The route will basically take us past all the bars downtown," she said of the march. "A lot of domestic assaults are not caused by, but exacerbated by drugs and alcohol."

The Take Back the Night movement originated in Europe where groups of women chose a night to take to the streets to protest violence against women and children, especially domestic violence and sexual assault.

©Copyright 2002, The Pioneer (MN)

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