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Friday, March 14, 2008

'Vagina Monologues': Did you know it was about ending violence?

Ten years ago, playwright Eve Ensler and a group of women performed "The Vagina Monologues" in a New York theater on Valentine's Day to raise awareness and money to stop violence against women and girls. The success of the play launched the "V-Day" movement, with its goal of putting an end to the violence.

According to a government survey in 2002, nearly 1 in 5 Japanese women have suffered physical assault, sexual coercion, or frightening threats from their spouse or boyfriend. Globally, the figure jumps to 1 in 3.

This White Day weekend in Hiroshima City, a group of women will give life to the monologues to benefit their local communities by staging a bilingual performance of, "V-Day Hiroshima: A Benefit Performance of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues," at Cafe Paco (March 15, starts at 8 p.m.).

Ensler created fictional monologues grounded in true stories from hundreds of interviews. The 90-minute performance boldly traces women's experiences with themes ranging from the hilarious, to the heartwarming and also the heart-wrenching, as understood through stories of their vaginas.

One of "V-Day Hiroshima's" outreach coordinators, Florence Smith, spoke with The Japan Times about the focus of this year's "V-Day" production.

"Every year's production has a global spotlight campaign. This year's spotlight is Hurricane Katrina, and a third of the funds raised will go to the 'Katrina Warriors Network,' which is a group trying to help women who were affected by the hurricane to get back on their feet."

The other two-thirds of the profits from the event will be split between a local Hiroshima women's domestic-violence shelter/hotline and the Amnesty International campaign "Stop Violence Against Women."

The performance is not the end of the campaign, however. The organizers will release a self-published book to raise funds, which will include personalized messages from audience members, as well as more information on how to lend a hand.

For tickets, or to find out how to put on a V-Day event in your own area, visit: vdayhiro.blogspot.com/ or e-mail vdayhiroshima@yahoo.com.

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