One Billion Rising is a global campaign, dedicated to the problem violence against women* and girls, which takes place annually on 14 February. More than 130 countries have already joined this action. Belarus is one of them.
In 2016, this action was brought to Minsk, Belarus by Olga Gorbunova, the manager of the shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Since then, Belarus has been dancing to end violence against women* and girls every year.
On November 9 2021, Olga was detained by belarusian state authorities. It is unknown what charges are pressed against her , however, we assume that she was detained because of her women rights activism – helping women* and children in situations of domestic violence and because of the exercise of her civil rights.
For 18 years, Olga Gorbunova worked in a shelter as a psychologist, a director, and then a manager of the shelter. Some of the unbearable stories that she happened to live and witness were able to be found on a website that was sadly taken down. They were difficult to read. Olga, however, always had the right words to support and comfort those who experienced pain. She also had to defend her clients and herself from the aggressors, pursuing the victims til the end: e.g. they besieged the shelter, wrote endless complaints to all authorities.
Olga has done a lot for women* and children in Belarus for their safety – physical, psychological and legal. In an authoritarian country where mass repressions and persecution have been taking place since 1999 and intensified since 2020, Olya has been fighting against gender violence at the cost of her own freedom.
We ask you to dedicate this year’s action to the political prisoner, activist and human rights activist Olga Gorbunova. You can dance with a poster or a T-shirt with her image, you can tag us on Instagram – @free_volya, you can dance to a song translated into Belarusian. Without your support and attention, we will not be able to help Olya and other women political prisoners in Belarus. Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Please forward this letter to your colleagues and partners.