“How many of you can utter the word ‘vagina’?”, only few hands rose up with reluctance. “If we all utter ‘vagina’ in chorus can you utter it?”. There were quite a few vigorous nods but most of them shied away. None of these are any extracts from any medical literature or a seminar but words of a passionate woman who has joined the revolution for the liberation of ‘vagina’ – an empirical symbol of womanhood. However, it has been subjected to continuous humiliation and torture. This was and is the call of The Vagina Monologues – a fight to liberate womanhood – vagina.

The Vagina Monologues is an Obie Award winning episodic play written by Eve Ensler which ran at the Broadway Westside Theatre. Ensler originally started in production; when she left the play it was recast with three celebrity monologists. The production has been staged internationally, and a television version featuring Ensler was produced by cable TV channel HBO. In 1998, Eve launched a V-day, a global non profit that has raised a huge sum for women’s anti-violence groups through benefits of the play.

India, being a developing nation, has its own taboos. In India, every 26 minutes a woman is molested, every 34 minutes a rape takes place and every 43 minutes a woman is kidnapped. Yet, the Indian Government comfortably sits back and watches the show. Indian women have been awarded the status of second class citizens, whereas their contribution is almost at par with the men folk.

In such a dismal situation, a few had to put their feet firmly on the ground and become the mouthpiece for the women fraternity. Mody Kotwal (a film personality), Dolly Thakore (who is a theatre legend in her own right), Jayati Bhatia (she has many, many roles to her credit including Kasturba in Mahatma vs Gandhi, the girl in All the Best and she appears in popular serials like Tu Tu Mein Mein and Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki), Avantika Akerkar (a brilliant actress and NGO activist) and Sonali Sachdev (an orthodontist who has become an actress). These dynamic women have joined hands to fight for this cause through the popular play, The Vagina Monologues. They have adapted the creation of Eve and added monologues of other women collected through their rigorous surveys.

This play contains different experiences of women all around the world and these are presented in story formats. Some of the most popular ones which are regularly performed are:
I Was Twelve, My Mother Slapped Me: a chorus describing many young women’s and girls’ first menstrual period.

My Angry Vagina, in which a woman humorously rants about injustices wrought against the vagina, such as tampons, douches, and the tools used by gynaecologists.

My Vagina Was My Village, a monologue compiled from the testimonies of Bosnian women subjected to rape camps.

And many more tales of the horrific situations which are unheard of and to which women are regularly subjected to.

The play is one mouthpiece of millions of women who are, at every moment, subjected to such humiliations and disgrace. The monologues are beautifully portrayed and in every dialogue, the audiences can feel the trauma and pain which the women tend to suffer from.

This production is undoubtedly an eye opener, a new source to join the fight and help these women gain back their rights. This can be the most apt way to make them believe in a beautiful life waiting ahead of them.

Sridatta Gupta

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