Defying societal norms, young, Nepali women discuss taboo topics at The Vagina Monologues.
This post was written by Women LEAD’s Communication Intern, Rija Shrestha
Talking about vaginas is no easy feat for young women in Nepal, but Women LEAD alumni Sujana, Niharika and Deepika defied this tradition with powerful performances at the 2016 Vagina Monologues. The production, organized by Hamri Bahini, brought together brave, fierce and funny storytellers and activists to freely talk about about women’s bodies and violence against women. The program also aims to provide women with the resources and support they need to talk about issues that are taboo, as well as to challenge and change the attitudes and institutions that subjugate women.
LEADer Deepika spoke about the impact she believed The Vagina Monologues can have in Nepal. “Vagina is a thing people don’t usually talk about. There is this tradition of keeping it hidden and suppressed. People feel embarrassed to talk about it. So the program was like a revolution.”
Niharika shared a similar observation. “Nepali audiences can be quite conservative and narrow minded, but judging by the number of Nepali people that came to watch the show, I can confidently say that their perceptions are changing.”
“I think the audience took it really well and I feel that we have been successful in breaking taboo over the word ‘vagina’ and everything surrounding the topic,” said Sujana.
Besides the broader social impact of The Vagina Monologues, the three performers expressed deep transformation the event had on their own self-confidence.
“After performing in The Vagina Monologues, I felt comfortable with how I look,” said 2014 LEADer Sujana. “Now, I don’t really care about always looking proper like I did before and I’m very happy and content with my body. Hairy legs? I don’t really care! I’m going to wear that short skirt if I want to.”
“It was life changing. I grew into this confident, powerful, fierce, funny woman from an awkward, shy, introverted teenager,” Niharika added about her experience.
While it was difficult at times to “show their characters justice” and deal with topics that are taboo, our LEADers agreed on this—that vaginas and women’s sexuality are not something that women should be ashamed to talk about.
“The response from the audience has been overwhelming,” said Sujana. “And I hope this support is not restricted to watching our play… but that [women and girls] are more comfortable talking freely about vaginas without feeling like they’re committing some kind of crime.”
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