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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Monologues 'outrage and empower' Pakistan
Women in Kabul
Some Pakistani women were appalled by the show - but others felt "empowered"
A theatre producer in Pakistan has been tackling cultural taboos with the first ever performance in the country of The Vagina Monologues.

The monologues - written by Eve Ensler - were staged in Islamabad by producer Nighat Risbi in an initiation-only show.

Ms Risbi said the show, which features three women talking about their vaginas and is split into sections such as "If your vagina could talk, what would it say?" and "The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could," had received a "mixed reaction."

"I think a lot of people were outraged," she told BBC World Service's Everywoman programme.

"A couple walked out saying 'why can't we use other parts of a woman's body apart from the vagina.'

"Some actually said that it felt good and empowering to be able to use the word without any shame and worry, and not having to look over your shoulder to see if somebody had heard you."

'Emotional roller-coaster'

Ms said that she had noticed this "empowering" feeling had affected a great number of the audience.

"We've had an emotional roller-coaster ride, along with the cast, throughout the performance, which was very overwhelming for us - even for those on the stage - to see," she stated.

And she added that the monologues had been a huge culture shock in a sexually conservative country.

Actresses in a London performance of The Vagina Monologues
The show is always performed by three actresses
"In Pakistan the way we are raised - the way I was raised - we are always taught not to be proud of our bodies," she said.

"We are always taught not to walk straight, we are always taught not to be uncovered, because it's part of the culture, part of the conditioning.

"You grow up feeling very conscious of your body parts and your shape and your size, and what you feel about yourself - your body is never discussed."

Ms Risbi added that she had found staging the monologues had continued her own personal development as well.

"I only discovered so much about my own person, my own body, a few years ago in my life. That was also through a very self-taught process," she said.

"We are taught not to be vocal about our sexuality."

Panic and terror

Eve Ensler, the writer of the monologues, stressed that Pakistan's reaction was similar to the one the show had received around the world.

Eve Ensler
Ensler says the show receives the same reaction around the world
"It doesn't matter what city, what country I've gone to, there's been incredible outrage,"

"And then what happens is that suddenly people realised how great it is to be talking about vaginas.

"But there's always that initial panic, and terror, and desire to shut things down when the word is mentioned anywhere."

Ensler added that fear of the vagina was universal, and something she hoped her monologues would continue to open people's eyes to.

"I think it's exactly the same situation in the West," she said.

"Our relationship to our bodies is very disassociated and disconnected - I think there's just different masks and different disguises for that disassociation."

'Monologues' banned in Malaysia
07 Feb 02  |  Entertainment
Men's free tickets for Vagina Monologues
27 Nov 01  |  Entertainment

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