Kay Famn, a Haitian women’s rights organization, estimated that 72 percent of Haitian girls have been raped. It is also estimated that 40 percent of Haitian women are victims of domestic violence. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, it was not until 2005 that rape was made a criminal offense in Haiti.
Sexual assault and domestic violence should be made known to everybody, and Jacksonville State University has a special way of doing that.
The WISE organization is presenting the campus with Eve Ensler’s episodic play The Vagina Monologues this weekend. These particular monologues answer a very serious question and give the abused an active voice.
“The Vagina Monologues were created by Eve Ensler, who went all over the world asking women what their vaginas would say if they could talk,” said Mollie Tinney, co-president of WISE. “She then wrote a series of monologues and started putting them on as play. Each year she chose a different cause for all of the proceeds to go toward.”
“The play is from the woman’s perspective about her own body. We saw it as the most effective way to get the word out there about domestic violence,” said Dr. Tina Deshotels, faculty advisor of WISE. “Members propose issues and the group then sponsors programs to educate and activate around those issues. We were also interested in having people be OK with saying the word ‘Vagina.’ We wanted them to see it as something positive unlike it has been portrayed in the media, beyond ways that women can control.”
This is the fourth year that The Vagina Monologues has been in production at JSU, but this is the first year that it will be on campus.
The production is performed by students and happens only once a year, but the WISE organization is available to students year-round.
“Wise stands for Women’s Issues Support and Empowerment,” said Tinney. “We want to be made visible on campus so men and women can know that they can be a part of the organization that promotes anti-violence, a place that they can go if they know someone who has been assaulted. It’s a group of people that you can come and be comfortable with and share those experiences if you would like to.”
The Vagina Monologues are for mature audiences and is said to jerk at all emotions. There will also be “A Rant and Prayer” that focuses on men helping to stop the violence against women.
The doors open tonight and Saturday at 6 p.m., the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and proceeds go directly to safe houses in Haiti and toward WISE scholarships.
“People should come to this because it’s important to make people aware of this so they don’t have to feel like they are so alone and make them realize that there are other people out there that fight that battle,” said Tinney. “We try to really encourage men to be involved, not to make them feel bad or point fingers but for them to take up this cause for their mothers or daughters. You don’t want that happening to any of the women in your family. Teach your boys or your nephews or sons how to be good to women.”
Tamara Tellis is a communication major at Jacksonville State University.