Almost 20 years ago, Eve Ensler, an American, wrote an episodic play called ‘The Vagina Monologues’ at the ‘Off Broadway Westside Theater’, a play that has been successfully staged internationally.
Two years after her play rose to fame, she launched a non-profit movement called the V-day with Willa Shalit in 1998. It has raised over US$100 million for groups working to end violence against women and girls through benefits from ‘The Vagina Monologues’.
On April 7, 2015 at the Fuzion D’Afrique located in Sinkor, a girls’ organization known as ‘The Association for the Advancement of Liberian Girls (AALG) hosted its fourth annual Vagina Monologues under theme : "Leave My Vagina Alone".
“The real reason why we’re having these monologues is to spread awareness of what is really happening here with the young girls,” stated Salamartu Duncan, one of its organizers.
“At our first Monologues, there were about seven people who showed up. The next year we had a few more people and by the third year we had a lot more.”
According Vagina Monologues’ Liberia co-organizer Marjean Sherman, each event that has been held so far has earned proceeds that benefit the Liberian girls’ organization.
"With (proceeds from) all of the Monologue events, we have been able to build two reading rooms and we want to build six more around the country,” added Marjean,
“We also focus on education for the girls. We have a mentoring program through which women who attend the Monologues help to mentor girls from ages six and upwards on sexual awareness,” Marjean stated.
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According to Salamartu, AALG feels that the Vagina Monologues will help alert women and girls about sexual violence, which she confirmed is rampant.
“We know that each and every one of you can help us to stop the sexual violence against women. Ebola has taken over our news, but so has rape cases against girls all under the age of 13. Each was raped and murdered.
“So, a group of ladies got together to start a campaign because we are trying to figure out what is happening with these cases and why are so many people raping young girls,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Vagina Monologues featured presentations from several personalities including Lisa White, Stephanie Carey, Charlene Perry, Jessie Hamsun and a few others reading monologues that dealt with feminine experiences such as sex, love, rape, menstruation, FGM, masturbation, birth and the multiplicity of names for the vagina.
“The word vagina makes people cringe when it is uttered,” acknowledged Salamartu.
Special guests who attended the event included More Than Me’s CEO Katie Meyler, Break the Silence head Paul Newman and several other celebrities who say they are interested in knowing what is happening in Liberia.
“Here’s a fact about Liberia: 80% of rape victims are under the age of 15, some as young as three years old – babies!” exclaimed Salamartu. "And usually they die when they are raped.
“We have the strongest rape laws. If you’re accused of raping somebody, they grab you and put you in jail. But, ehn you know this is Liberia? You go to court and, yeah, yeah yeah…” she said, chiding the system.
Paul Newman, who spoke for a new group called Break the Silence says he is in support of any group that wants to battle sexual violence against girls and women.
Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassel in a recent statement said she believes that the battle against sexual violence can only be won if Liberian children are given sex education.