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V-Day Activists Report from 'Turning Pain to Power' Tour in France

03/24/2009

Paris Update from V-Day’s Christine Schuler Deschryver

On March 24th, Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Human Rights in France, organized an evening of advocacy for women survivors of violence in the DRC to raise awareness about the issue of sexual violence, which has affected hundreds of thousands of Congolese women and girls in recent years.

I was there with Eve on behalf of V-Day, along with representatives of UNIFEM, UNICEF, Human Rights Watch and many other organizations who are working in Europe and on the ground to end the violence. What a surprise it was when it was announced that the first lady of France, Mrs. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was confirmed to join us! The event started with a screening of the V-Day documentary Until The Violence Stops, which moved the 300-person room to tears, including me as I saw it for the first time that evening.

Carla Bruni, also the Ambassador for the Protection of Mothers and Children against HIV/AIDS of the Global Fund, gave an encouraging speech, saying “…we are all concerned about rapes and we have to end it together.” I was personally very moved to see how humble and human both she and Rama Yade are in spite of their political stature. I thought about all the Congolese survivors who were abandoned in the last decade and wished that they could have been there to see that the world has started moving to end violence in DRC, and to witness this global movement that will transform their pain to power once and for all!

Christine Schuler Deschryver
Director, V-Day Congo & City of Joy

Update From the V-Day Montpellier Team

V-Day Montpellier 2009 was exceptional because of the presence of Eve, who came first in August 2008 to see the famous and scandalous painting in the Montpellier Musée Fabre: L'origine du monde. Ever since then our city is called "La cité du Vagin"!

So it was really easy after that to organize a formidable representation of The Vagina Monologues. The event turned out to be a great success with over 2000 attendees in the Opera Berlioz standing up to end violence against women and girls and applauding the actors: Malika Mokeddem (an Algerian writer), Laurentine Milebo (a Congolese actress), Madeleine Attal (our wonderful senior actress), and Ilène Grange and her young Compagnie de L’Âtre actresses: Chloé Albert, Lucie Lalande, Erkia Zouine.

Eve read the Spotlight Monologue, Baptized on stage, and there was a great emotion palpable among the people in the Opera. We heard through her voice the tragic situation of Femicide in Democratic Republic of Congo, and we are sure that all the women and men in the Opera will help the Congolese women.

Read Monologue Pour Ensler, “le vagin n'a pas de frontière”:
http://www.midilibre.com/articles/2009/03/27/20090327-MONTPELLIER-Pour-E...

During the V-Day Montpellier, Eve was asked to meet the activists of the Planning Familial de l’Hérault and women of the popular suburbs in Montpellier, La Paillade, most of whom are immigrant women facing difficult situations such as homelessness, domestic violence, rape and arranged weddings. It was a warm and interesting moment when Eve spoke with these women, empowering them and telling them about V-Day and the millions of women and men worldwide who are working to end violence against women and girls.

Eve then attended a second meeting, a special "Café des Femmes" with people in the Montpellier Emile Zola Library, where she debated with Moïra Sauvage, Hélène de Chabert, Marie-Cécile Renauld and Dominique Perrin. Tears were in Eve’s eyes when she recalled Noëlla, the young Congolese girl she hugged in Bukavu.

V-Day Montpellier 2009 generated $17,575 euros to end violence against women. It will be donated to the following French organizations: Le Planning Familial de l'Hérault; Le CIDF Montpellier and V-Day’s 2009 Spotlight Campaign on the women and girls of the DRC.

THANK YOU! And V-Love!

The Montpellier V-Day Team:
Dominique Perrin
Hélène de Chabert
Ilène Grange

Update From V-Day Brest Organizer Geneviève Robin

On March 28th, Eve was honored at the City Hall of Brest by politicians for her global work to end violence against women and girls. The previous day, Eve spoke at a bookstore with Moïra Sauvage, french journalist and author of Les Aventures De Ce Fabuleux Vagin, an exploration into the last ten years of the V-Day movement With generosity, Eve answered all questions and the audience was under her charm.

On the evening of March 28, Eve joined 1395 people for V-Day Brest 2009. Twenty-seven non-professional actresses ranging from student to grandmother (19 to 72) and coming from different cities from the Finistère came on stage in front of the sold out crowd. Attendees included pyschologists, obstetricians, nurses, teachers, farmers, students, politicians and many more!

At the end, Eve came on stage to read Baptized in English while I read it in French. Thousands of pink petals descended on the readers at the end of the show. And then an incredible thing happened.... Eve asked how many men in the audience will stand up to end violence against women and girls and they all stood up under applause with women following them. In less than 2 minutes, the whole theater was standing and deeply moved. On stage we could feel that something important was happening.

In the lobby, people talked a lot about the DRC, about how lucky the women were to read the different pieces, and about the involvement of the many V-Men in Brest who are ready to testify too.

In love, peace and solidarity with the women of Finistère, the DRC and everywhere !

Geneviève Robin- organiser of V-Day Brest 2009