This Sunday, ASAP’s Coordinator Suchitra Dalvie and Assistant Coordinator Shilpa Shroff heard Eve Ensler talk at a local event organized to promote the One Billion Rising Campaign. Dr. Dalvie writes about the event, and the upcoming campaign.
“When you bring consciousness to anything, things begin to shift.”
It is sweet poetic justice that the woman who is currently encouraging all women to rise in dance on 14th February should be called Eve. After all the Biblical Eve was the first to defy the patriarchal rules of Eden (if you like a feminist twist on Genesis that is).
Eve Ensler is a Tony award winning playwright, performer and activist. She is the award-winning author of The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Her experience with the Vagina Monologues inspired her to creat V Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. To Eve, we are not just women, but Vagina warriors. This movement draws public attention to worldwide violence against women, including sex slavery, female genital mutilation, incest ).
One in every 3 women suffers from violence in her lifetime – physical, sexual or both. These are only the reported cases. If we estimate the unreported ones, we can assume that one in two, or every other woman, and perhaps more, has suffered from physical or sexual violence during her life. Only because she is a woman. This usually happens at the hands of a man she knows, trusted, was legally obliged to be with — guardians, fathers, uncles, cousins, boyfriends, husbands, policemen, army men. So many relationships that we negotiate in our everyday lives.
Eve believes we’ve seen ENOUGH! She speaks with deep sorrow of the stories she has heard across the globe. Congo, Peru, Australia, India, Philippines, USA, everywhere she goes, there are women who have suffered and some who have managed to escape, recover and re-build their lives.
She speaks passionately of the ‘rape culture’ that has emerged from the unfettered capitalism of our age. Eve believes that this encompasses not only sexual assaults on women, but also the unscrupulous depletion of resources on Earth. She paints a broad and poetic picture as she compares the pillaging of Earth to the rape of a woman. In both cases, those in power feel entitled to claim what is not theirs. They enjoy the spoils of their “victory” and move on, leaving behind others to suffer the horrific consequences of the damage they’ve done.
Eve says it is time we rose in protest and put an end to all this! It is time we reclaimed space for women – public spaces, private spaces, where we can speak, stand tall, sing and dance.
She is in India currently to interact with women and groups working on the One Billion Rising Campaign , which encourages everyone who protests violence against women to drop whatever they are doing and rise up in dance. At home, in streets, at the workplace, in colleges and schools, in buses and trains.
In Mumbai on a Sunday morning, Eve spoke of her journey as a theatre artist, and how she had battled the criticism of those who did not think theater was an apt way to challenge violence against women. But then the movement grew, and continues to grow with 5800 performances of The Vagina Monologues in over 70 countries. The surplus of 100 million dollars raised through these shows goes towards the V Day programmes helping women and girls who have suffered violence.
The meeting in Mumbai was organized by Poorbox Productions, which brought The Vagina Monologues to India and by Sneha, a local NGO that works for the welfare of women in urban slums. Two of these women shared stories of their struggles with violence and torture, and eventual escape. It was very moving to see one of the women tremble with stage fright as they spoke, but determined nevertheless to share her story. A roar of applause greeted her for her bravery.
Eve also spoke with wonder at the revolution that seems to be sweeping India and the focus of the media on the issue of the rape and its consequences. She spoke of the tsunami of female-power, and urged the audience to ride this wave on the 14th of February. The question of police permissions arose when it was suggested that women take to the streets and dance. The audience came up with a wise solution: invite the police to join in the dance!
We urge you to join this campaign, mark the date in your calendars, and rise to dance on 14th February! For more information read our blogpost on the One Billion Rising Campaign.