V-Day Congo Director Brings "The Vagina Monologues" To Goma, DRC
Two weeks ago, performances of The Vagina Monologues were held in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. The events, organized by V-Day Congo Director Christine Schuler Deschryver, brought hundreds of women and men together and raised significant awareness for V-Day's Congo Campaign, Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource: Power to the Women and Girls of the DRC. Following is Christine's first hand account of the events:
Being born from a very conservative Congolese mother who never talked about “this place” with us, I hardly imagined that the word “vagina” could be pronounced in public until last June when we performed Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues in the capital city of Kinshasa, DRC for the first time. I have to say that when people saw the invitations, they were shocked! That evening however, more than 200 people came to the performance, including lots of government officials (advisers of President Kabila, Ministers, Senators, Deputies), high profile UN officials, wives of Ambassadors, activists, as well as everyday citizens, all of whom we saw crying and laughing throughout the play. That some deputies asked us to perform at the Congolese Parliament created a huge discussion and awareness raising opportunity about the issue of violence against women in the DRC.
Based on the success of the June performance, in January 2010 we decided to bring The Vagina Monologues to different cities in DRC. On March 31st, we performed in Goma (the capital of North Kivu), targeting officials, UN agencies, national and international NGOs, and activists. More than 250 people attended, including Ministers, the President of Provincial Assembly, along with dozens of deputies, General Bisengimana, the number two national level of Police, and more. The actresses, all local Congolese women, were amazing and the event was a success.
Following the performance the reactions were overwhelmingly positive.
The target of the second performance was students. The event was an open-air performance during the rainy season! Just imagine all the technical problems, a stand, microphones, generator, chairs etc… so we were all a little bit nervous. What a surprise to see that the majority of the audience was men. Esther, our Campaign Coordinator, stopped counting at 350 people, and I can tell you, that they all stayed till the end, laughed so much and at the end two presidents from two colleges asked us to use The Vagina Monologues as a tool to raise awareness about rape and to join our Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource: Power To The Women and Girls of the DRC Congo campaign.
What is really incredible is the discussion around vaginas that took place after the performance. Never forget that due to "our culture”, we were not allowed to talk about vaginas, also never forget how they destroy, mutilate, rape this hidden place. Today, seeing my mamas throughout the country talking so openly about it makes me feel that the V-Revolution has started.