Eve in Croatia and Serbia: Roundtable on Wartime Rape; V-Day Benefit Production of "The Vagina Monologues"
In early April, Eve traveled to Croatia to participate in a roundtable discussion on sexual violence in war, meet with women's groups on the ground, and attend a special V-Day benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues in Serbia. Events were hugely successful, with Eve issuing a rallying cry to all Croatians for a global crusade to fight discrimination and violence against women. V-Day activist and friend Rada Borić, who has been involved with V-Day since it's inception, recapped the events:
In Vukovar on April 3, Eve and I attended a roundtable discussion organized by the UN in Croatia and the City of Vukovar entitled Sexual Violence in the War and the Prosecution of the Perpetrators of Sexual Violence. The event was on the issue of wartime rape in order to draw attention to rape victims and motivate state institutions to respond to the victims' needs and punish the perpetrators of crimes against women. The roundtable featured Eve Ensler, who spoke about the need to empower and support the victims so they would take on leadership roles in their community.
Eve and I then went to Belgrade for a visit organized in collaboration with the Network "Women against Violence," the radical feminist group Amazons and the feminist art-activist group ACT Women (Art Club Taboo Women). Eve spoke to the groups. She talked about wartime rape, especially that in Congo, but also about the need not to create a hierarchy of pain. Activists shared their thoughts on activism, the fight against violence, which is often invisible and exhausting, but also about the feeling of satisfaction when women manage to live a life free of violence. Eve spoke about the City of Joy in Bukavu, Congo, as an example of a good practice - women who had been raped but who became empowered and leaders in their communities.
In the evening, the activists from ACT Women organized the ARTistic program "My Body - Shame or Power" in the Cultural Center Rex, founded as a laboratory for studying new cultural fields. It was once more shown how important the transposition and relationship between art and activism is. Two performances of The Vagina Monologues featured Vesna Bujošević and Biljana Stanković Lori (Fens Theatre and ACT Women), and wartime rape and women's organizing and resistance was discussed by Lepa Mlađenović, myself, and Eve. With her directness and a passionate speech on the necessity of changing the patriarchal paradigm of power, Eve won the audience over in the crowded Rex. The program was moderated by Zoe Gudović and translated by Ana Imširović Đorđević.
Eve and I ended our visit to Serbia in Niš. Two women's organizations - Girl's Center and Women's Space (organizers of FemiNiš, the festival of women's activism and art) - hosted the gathering of activists from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo (with the support of Kvinna till Kvinna).
"We live in a patriarchal world, we live the 'penis monologues', so I decided to create the 'vagina monologues' in order to give women a voice. It is not against men, but for women," said Eve at a press conference occasioned by the performance at the National Theatre in Niš.
In the afternoon of April 5, Eve and I led a 'vagina workshop' in which around 50 activists had an opportunity to talk about their sexuality, fears and desires. In the evening, all of them joined the audience at the National Theatre, which was too small to accommodate everyone who wanted to see the Niš performance of The Vagina Monologues.
The Vagina Monologues was read, aside from the activists from Girl's Center Niš and Women's Space, by the actresses Ana Sofrenović and Katarina Gojković, who had already performed the monologues in Belgrade (as part of V-Day at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre and Atelier 212).