Local residents hold vigil for gender violence

COOS BAY, Ore.-- A local women's group gathered on the steps of the Coos Bay Boardwalk Monday night to honor the victims of gender violence throughout the world.

The Zonta Club of Coos Bay gathered around 25 of its members for a candlelight vigil just after dark.

"We are commemorating human rights day," said Margaret Melbin, Zonta Advocacy Committee Chair. "We're having a candlelight vigil tonight to educate people in this community and throughout the world about gender violence and its effects on society as a whole."

Monday night marked the end of 16 days against violence. This year's theme was "Peace in the home to peace in the world".

Melbin said gender violence is very similar to domestic violence, but it the violence is both inside and outside of the home.

"Some men target women even if they aren't in a relationship with them," she said. "In some cultures, women are targets of violence simply because they are women."

In addition to talking about femicide and other issues women face around the world, the vigil took mostly a local feel.

One woman's survival story of being a rape victim that lead to drug abuse was shared as a positive example of how women can overcome violence.

"We focus a lot on the domestic violence issue," said Deb Lal, Zonta vice president. "It's typically what we see a lot of around here."

Though this is the third year Zonta has held a vigil for violence victims, this is the first year the club will launch their Zonta Says No campaign in which Zonta International clubs around the world are now partnering to empower women worldwide to stand up to attackers and abusers.

Lal said here at home the organization will focus on helping women at home and abroad.

"We reach out to many organizations on the south coast to anyone who is suffering from gender violence, but especially women who need our help here on the South Coast," Lal said.

She said Zonta will give Christmas gifts to the Pregnancy Resource Center in Coos Bay this year.