Capital Dances the Madison to Spotlight Women’s Safety Issues

More than 100 people lined up in Phnom Penh on Sunday afternoon to perform the popular Madison dance, braving the rain as the boogying flash mobs shuffled and stepped to promote a new campaign to safeguard women and children living in cities.

The pop-up performances were part of the Safe Cities for Women campaign organized jointly by ActionAid and the Young Women Leadership Network (YWLN), which hopes to harness the spirit of the 60s-era dance that has become synonymous with weddings.

Volunteers line up to dance the Madison at the Night Market on Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh as part of a campaign to promote safety for women and children in cities. (Simon Henderson/The Cambodia Daily)
Volunteers line up to dance the Madison at the Night Market on Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh as part of a campaign to promote safety for women and children in cities. (Simon Henderson/The Cambodia Daily)

“Young people like something fun so we chose the Madison Dance to get people interested and have chosen songs to dance to that carry an educational message,” said Yin Chenda, project manager for YWLN.

“We hope it’s a good way to get the public to join with us and spread the message that violence and indecent acts against women must stop.”

The campaign also invites women to call a hotline and leave anonymous messages that will be broadcast on radio and social media and displayed on artwork in public spaces to help draw attention to the pervasive problem of violence against women.

But on Sunday at the Night Market on the Riverside and a plaza in Russei Keo district, it was about the moves.

Long Sinnapha, 20, a student at the Royal University of Law and Economics, said this was her second time joining this kind of dance, after a previous flash mob event was held at the Royal University of Phnom Penh last week.

“This kind of dancing event is really good for women because it makes people understand about women’s rights and the issues they are facing,” she said.

“In Cambodia, the respect of women’s rights is still limited, so this is a good way to give women a voice and empower them to spread the word.”

It’s not the first time that the dance has been used to raise awareness—in 2012, almost 1,000 people danced into the Guinness Book of World Records when BBC Media’s Loy9 TV program hosted the largest ever Madison Dance to promote youth involvement in politics.

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