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Bollywood starpower supports US playwright's gender justice fight

New Delhi, Jan 4, 2013, (PTI):
American playwright and activist Eve Ensler. Wikipedia Image

American playwright and activist Eve Ensler, currently in India to gather support for her global movement to uproot violence against women, is also celebrating 10 years of her award-winning play "The Vagina Monologues" in the country.

Bollywood actors Chitrangada Singh, Manasi Scott and Suchitra Pillai will star in the hindi adaptation of the play, scheduled to be staged in Mumbai on January 6.

"Eve Ensler, has been in India for some time now to launch her One Billion Rising movement to end violence against women. She will be performing a piece in Mumbai along with the three guest actors from Bollywood," Kaizaad Kotwal, co- director of the play, told PTI.

Eve is also scheduled to visit Delhi on January 8 and perform with the cast, which includes Varshaa Agnihotri, Rasika Duggal, Dilnaz Irani, Dolly Thakore and Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, who along with her son Kaizaad Kotwal has been directing the play in the country for the last 10 years.

The play, explores violence and other experiences of women all over the world through a series of monologues premiered in New York on October 3, 1996.

"With this new movement and with our efforts and Eve's visit we intend to put India on the global map as a country that is going to take its role seriously when it comes to once and for all ending violence against women and girls," says Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal.

In the backdrop of the brutal gangrape and death of a 23 -year-old Delhi medical student, the timing of the play is appropriate, says Kaizaad.

"I personally believe that the play has saved lives. Many women who have been victims of genital mutilation have come up and talked about their experiences and wanted to make sure their daughters did not have to go through what they did.

"And these are upper middle class women and not those in slum bastis. I believe the play has a transformational power. Very few plays last for 10 years. The audience has been growing over the years. This a reflection that the society is growing up," says the co-director.

Eve had earlier in Thiruvanthapuram, met women rights groups, activists and artists to drum up support for her One Billion Rising (OBR) global movement. The activist will be launching the new movement on February 14, this year.

"The anti-rape protest movement will serve as a catalyst for the movement not only for India but for an entire world where sexual violence is rampant," Eve had said in Thiruvanthapuram.

She said she eschewed capital punishment for rapists and advocated for education and "transformation".

"I have never believed in capital punishment. I don't think that kind of punishment serves a longer term I think it is about transformation and it is about accountability. I think men need to be held accountable for their actions," she said.

Eve, who had reportedly been physically and sexually abused by her father when she was a child said, "I also think education and transformation is the key to the future, how do we help man who have raped who have incested and, how to stop doing that and how to teach their sons to do the same."

The 59-year-old playwright and activist had earlier tweeted "Sexual violence not a cultural phenomenon in India - one billion women on the planet have been violated around the world."

The OBR campaign, launched early in the year 2012 began as a call to action based on the UN statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls.

On February 14, activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities across the world will plan to get together to express their outrage, "strike, dance, and rise" in defiance of injustices women suffer and demand an end to violence against women.

"The launch of the OBR is important. OBR is focusiing on the use of art to create activism," says Kaizaad.

Meanwhile, Eve's play "The Vagina Monologues", translated into hindi by Ritu Bhatia and Jaydeep Sarkar is also set to travel to Lucknow.

"We did not get permission from authorities in Thiruvananthapuram to stage the play but we will be showing in Lucknow on January 14 and towards the end of January will stage the English version in Kochi. Eve will not be present for both of them because she would be going to Bangladesh and other countries," said Kaizaad Kotwal, the play's co-director.
The original stories of the play have been adapted to an Indian context.

"The original script we are not allowed to change, but we have done contextual changes to adapt to the Indian situation. For example the Jewish woman in the original script has been made into a Parsi," says Kotwal.


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