Inspired by the writer/playwright Eve Ensler, author of the renowned Vagina Monologues, dozens of local women are taking to the streets on Feb. 14, the day of love, to take part in the worldwide One Billion Rising: a global event intended to raise awareness of the ever-increasing occurrences of violence against women and girls.
New Paltz resident Mary Goggin became inspired to try to help launch a local One Billion Rising rally after having the opportunity to hear Ensler speak last September at a Women’s Empowerment weekend workshop at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck. It is the 15th anniversary of V-Day, a not-for-profit movement that Ensler launched in which women throughout the US and the world perform The Vagina Monologues with all proceeds going to women’s anti-violence groups (upwards of $75 million have been raised toward this end). The various monologues focus on the feminine experience, touching on matters including sex, love, rape, menstruation, female genital mutilation and birth.
Having spent much of her time in the Congo over several years, Ensler, according to Goggin, gave a powerful presentation on the increasing epidemic of rape being used as a tool of warfare, with untold numbers of women, young girls and grandmothers being raped by soldiers or vigilantes. “She showed a video that was so intense, so chilling,” recalled Goggin about the playwright/activist’s time in the Congo working with victims of horrendous violence and rape. To that end, she helped to raise enough money to build the City of Hope, a village in the Congo where women and girls can go to heal and seek shelter and protection from the epidemic of rape and beatings as a tool of war.