Being in a circumstance of incestuous rape or abuse doesn’t mean one is doomed or spoiled forever or that the damage is permanent. “Women who come out of it and heal from such situations and misfortunes are the strongest women who will ever walk the earth,” declared Eve Ensler at the launch of her new book, The Apology.
The Akshara Centre — a women’s rights movement working toward justice for the sexes, women’s education and the ending of violence against women, organised a talk with Ensler, author and award winning playwright. It was held at Mumbai’s Royal Opera House theatre.
The evening began with two women singers who sang Alicia Keys’ Girl on Fire, quite fitting for the event and occasion, which tried to celebrate the very essence of femininity, its beauty and womanhood.
Actor Rahul Bose read a self-written apology letter, by the author herself, to herself, from her father who had sexually abused her from the age of 5 to 10. Bose’s utterance of the letter was strong, and soothing, telling audiences, who seemed shocked and stunned into silence at the same time, about Eve
Ensler’s life and the abuse she underwent at the hands of a misogynistic, all-powerful family member. Her own father. Through the letter audiences were almost reliving Ensler’s tragedy themselves.
Ensler then got into conversation with award winning journalist Faye D’souza and the two discussed everything from politics, to political leaders around the world.
However, the crux of Ensler’s talk was to point out patriarchal tendencies in society, where women have time and again, been treated, methodically as ‘second-class citizens.’
Ensler spoke about macho tendencies in the United States, which is her home country, where a culture of white male supremacism had resulted in violence against immigrants and outsiders, against women and against those sections that may be perceived as weaker.
Ensler did not shy away from pointing out that a similar culture had pervaded the Indian social climate and life, owing primarily to the masculine and insular forces that had wrested power in both countries.
Asad Laljee, SVP, Essar Group, CEO of Avid Learning and Curator, Royal Opera House Mumbai, said, “Gender rights, diversity, parity and inclusivity are key in fuelling empowerment for women and the Opera House seeks to be a change-maker in this respect by providing a platform for fearless and inspiring women to tell their stories, recount their trials and tribulations and instigate change.”
Ensler spoke about how even when an apology doesn’t come from an abuser, a sexual abuser — which it often doesn’t — one can use imagination to heal
oneself. For example Ensler, always believed that an alligator was coming to save her, only that he or she was a little late in doing that. Another technique to heal the self, Ensler stated, was to write a letter to oneself, imagining that one’s violator and abuser is writing the very letter to you.
She said, during her conversation with the feisty and forthright D’Souza that these were simple techniques one could use to assuage pain and any unwelcome feelings of guilt or unworthiness.