V-Day Safe House to Open in Narok, Kenya for Girls Escaping Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Early Childhood Marriages
Local Community Group Tasaru Ntomomok to Run The Safe House Which Will Open On Monday, April 8:
V-Day Founder/Playwright Eve Ensler to attend at the Grand Opening
April 5, 2002 - New York and Narok, Kenya
V-Day, the global movement to stop violence against women and girls, today announced the opening of the first V-Day Safe House in Narok, Kenya on Monday, April 8. The Narok Safe House will have 40 beds and is intended as a safe haven for young girls seeking refuge from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early childhood marriage. Noted Kenyan activist and V-Day beneficiary Agnes Pareyio, one of the founders of Tasuru Ntomonok will oversee the V-Day Safe house there.
Tasaru Ntomomok is a community-based, non-profit organization that educates the community on the dangers of FGM and early childhood marriages and also provides an alternative to the ritual of FGM. When she began her work 2 1/2 years ago, Pareyio would walk from village to village with a replica of the female genitalia both cut and uncut in order to illustrate the effects of FGM on the young women. As a result of the group's awareness campaign, girls started saying "No" to FGM and turning to the group for refuge.
On the group's work and Pareyio, V-Day Founder/Playwright Eve Ensler stated, "Two years ago, I met Agnes Pareyio in the field educating a group on the dangers of FGM. By simply educating girls and their relatives, both male and female, she was enacting revolutionary change, she was saving girls from the cut."
Immediately following that visit, V-Day purchased a Jeep for Agnes so she could cover more territory and reach more people and also began fundraising for the first V-Day safe house where girls could seek refuge. The importance of the Safe house lies in the fact that once educated about the cut, girls require a safe place to seek refuge. Without a safe haven, many of the girls will be forced to undergo FGM.
Pareyio stated, "Eve and V-DAY started by donating a jeep that has enabled me to reach my people - the Maasi - who are deeply rooted by their traditional cultures and who still hold their beliefs that girls can not be a woman without the cut. With the opening of the Safe House, girls who have escaped the cut can undergo an alternative ritual which I hope my people will grow to understand and adopt."
For the alternative rite of passage without the cut, Tasaru Ntomomok takes girls into a 5-day seclusion during which they teach them to know themselves and empower them to make informed decisions about their own lives. This education intentionally reflects the Masai culture, where women start teaching their girls immediately after forced FGM when they are still in seclusion. Tasaru Ntomomok believes the teachings are important and should continue, but without the pain of the cut.
To date, the organization has been able to rescue many girls who are staying with well-wishers until the V-Day Safe House opens. V-DAY has also facilitated 2 seminars where 150 girls graduated without the cut. On Monday in Narok, 40 more girls will graduate with Ensler handing out their certificates.
The V-Day Safe House in Narok is the first V-Day Safe House to open. On April 20 in Rapid City, SD, USA, V-Day will hold a fundraising event for the second V-Day Safe House which will be built Native Sioux Land to serve Native American women.
About About V-Day
V-Day is a global movement that helps anti-violence organizations throughout the world continue and expand their core work on the ground, while drawing public attention to the larger fight to stop worldwide violence (including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual slavery) against women and girls.
V-Day is also a day (on or around Valentine's Day in February), for which annual theatrical and artistic events are produced around the world to transform consciousness, raise money, and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. Each year, V-Day promotes a series of innovative productions, events and initiatives that are identified collectively as V-Day and the year (i.e. V-Day 2001, V-Day 2002, V-Day 2003...). In 2002, V-Day has evolved from one day - Valentine's Day - into a 13-week calendar of events and social action campaigns. From January 24 - April 20, 2002, more than 800 benefit productions of Ensler's play, "The Vagina Monologues," are taking place in theatres, community centers, houses of worship, and college campuses around the world.
V-Day, a non-profit corporation, distributes funds to grassroots national, and international organizations and programs that work to stop violence against women and girls. In just five years, V-Day has raised over $7 million and was recently named one of Worth Magazine's "100 Best Charities".
V-Day 2002 sponsors and marketing partners:
To date, V-Day's 2002 corporate sponsors include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Lifetime Television, Liz Claiborne, Marie Claire, and Tampax. V-Day's 2002 marketing partners include Eziba (V-Day's exclusive retailer: http://www.eziba.com/vday), Karen Neuburger (V-Day pajamas), SUNDÃRI, and Vosges Haut-Chocolat.
The 'V' in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.
Susan Celia Swan for V-Day +1 212 4453288, firstname.lastname@example.org