Life | V are the world

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V are the world
Text by Meher Marfatia
Published: Volume 17, Issue 11, November, 2009

They make a winning duo. Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal first directed activist-playwright Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. The feisty pair teams up again in a world premiere of I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World in Mumbai this month. Meher Marfatia chats with the two women

Eve Ensler

For I Am an Emotional Creature, you researched atrocities against women in over 25 countries. Where were you most shocked by realities they face?
My fictional monologues are a result of discovering no place in the world where I’m not shocked by what young women live with. What I find myself consistently moved by is their resilience.

How far do you widen the circle when you claim ‘Afghanistan is everywhere’?
Women are dominated just the same everywhere. It’s a myth to believe the West is not affected. Americans refer to ‘those poor women out there’. But non-Westerners enjoy a certain liberation, in the sense that they aren’t under the tyranny of capitalism. Women in Africa and India are more comfortable with their sensuousness.

After being roped into The Vagina Monologues’ V-Day initiative, would men be included in this V-Girls programme as well?
I’m excited V-Day is launching a V-Men’s initiative, led by extraordinary men too. Men can’t hurt women without damaging themselves. V-Day activists worldwide will conduct workshops, making men integral to the dialogue on ending violence against women and girls. Our vision is to let the content of these workshops create a new theatre piece – 10 Ways to Be a Man.

Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal

Why exactly have you chosen to stage I Am an Emotional Creature?
First of all, the writing is brilliant. It echoes the thoughts and feelings of millions of girls across the globe. and of course, the wide range of topics encompassed in the entire piece.

Can you comment on the relevance of the V-Girls movement to India.
The V-Girls’ philosophy believes girls should be aware of both their rights and responsibilities if they are to become a major decision-making force universally. In many countries like ours, where girls are not even allowed to be born, the importance of this play cannot be emphasised enough.

How do you plan to spark such ‘empowerment philanthropy’ here?
We will work on projects such as the mentoring of very young girls by older girls and support shelters which save girls from sex slavery, physical and mental abuse. We’ll also provide legal assistance. And reach out to parents in areas where the girl child is unwelcome, making these families aware that – to use a line from the play – ‘Girls should be counted!’ All this requires time and commitment, which I know young Indian women at all levels are capable of giving for their less fortunate sisters.

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