Students join march against gender violence
Monday, May 2, 2011
Category: News > University > Student Life
In an effort to raise awareness about gender violence and rape, a group of men from UC Berkeley and other California schools took the time last Saturday to walk in women's shoes - literally.
The Hermanas Unidas and Hermanos Unidos organizations at UC Berkeley participated in the event - called "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" - with chapters from across the state. The annual event takes place internationally and involves men wearing women's high-heeled shoes for a mile-long walk while women walk alongside them.
At a joint conference in January, Hermanas and Hermanos members decided to put on the walk as a community service event. Chair of Hermanas Unidas at UC Berkeley Roxana Cruz said this particular cause was chosen because her organization is dedicated to empowering women and because domestic violence is something that many Hispanic women have to face.
"It's a fun and comfortable way for people to talk about an issue that's difficult to talk about in our society," said UC Berkeley Hermanas Unidas Historian Lilian Ledesma. "We're trying to bring those issues up and bring awareness in a way that will be fun."
Members from Hermanas and Hermanos chapters at UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, UC Irvine, CSU Fullerton, CSU Long Beach and CSU Northridge traveled to Berkeley to participate in the event.
Chapters from both organizations fundraised money prior to the walk at their respective campuses to pay for transportation to Berkeley, to cover the cost of purchasing the shoes and to donate to the cause. The money raised for the event will be donated to Rainbow Services - a nonprofit organization in Southern California dedicated to preventing family violence - and Bay Area Women Against Rape. The organizations continued to accept donations at the actual event as well.
"I feel like people don't focus so much on rape and assault and gender violence," Cruz said. "(The event) will bring awareness that will maybe help decrease it."
The walk began on Upper Sproul Plaza, and from there, members walked to Strawberry Creek Park, where they enjoyed music and food and listened to speeches and performances on topics related to the event.
Hermanas members read poems by Maya Angelou that celebrated women and UC Berkeley senior and Hermanos member Manuel Pastore performed a song about appreciation of women that he wrote for a previous Hermanos event in November.
Though not all the men that participated in the walk wore high heels, those that did said it gave them a new perspective and awareness.
"By us wearing the heels it just inflicts that pain to us," said CSU Los Angeles senior Miguel Cucue. "And we could only imagine how it would feel to get verbally and physically abused."
Cucue also decided to shave his legs just for the event and said it gave him "a whole new respect for women."
UC Berkeley sophomore and Hermanos member Branden Saenz said wearing the heels was not as bad as he thought it would be, though he said it was still difficult.
"It's nothing compared to what women actually go through," Saenz said. "It seems like a small task, but the message is something bigger."
Though this is the first time that Hermanas Unidas and Hermanos Unidos have ever participated in this walk, members said they hope to continue working for the cause in the future and make it an annual event.
Contact Courtney Moulds at [email protected]
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