Imagine never being told, as a girl, to not sit with your legs “open” or “spread.” Imagine not being asked, as soon as you hit the age of 22 (or 25) when you’re going to tie the knot. Imagine not spending the extra 10 minutes deciding what to wear to work so you’re not too revealing, but can also maintain your fashion standard. Imagine a society where girls – and their bodies, attitudes, behaviours, choice of words, tone of voice – are not used as measures to judge their personality. Imagine.
That day may be decades away, but the movements to change such mindsets have begun. This past weekend, the very first production of “It’s a SHE Thing,” a play that features various monologues regarding women’s rights, was held at the International School, Dhaka (ISD) and Goethe Institut Dhaka on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The play was produced by VDAY Dhaka, a group of women who have been performing the renowned play “The Vagina Monologues” in Bangladesh since 2010, with the aim to raise awareness about gender discrimination in Bangladesh. This year, they decided instead to produce “It’s a SHE Thing.”
“This is a more local version inspired by VDAY. The stories collected are based on different experiences of women from around Dhaka,” said Tasaffy Hossain, organiser of VDAY Dhaka.
The accounts were collected from women of different age groups, communities and socio-economic backgrounds in Dhaka.
“As we asked around, the stories began coming together telling us about the sorrows and the challenges, as well as the strength and joys of ordinary women whose efforts in everyday battles make them extraordinary,” said one of the presenters.
The monologues included accounts of remarks girls are subjected to everyday, stories of abuse survivors, confessions of a lesbian and a lot more – just a reminder to all that many women go through this and that it is time to speak up instead of keeping their stories hidden.
“People should accept everybody,” Syeda Samara Mortada, one of the organisers of the event, told the Dhaka Tribune in a separate interview. “They might have their own sexual orientation or have had things happen to them which wasn’t really their fault – or maybe they chose it. But they need to be respected irrespective of their gender, or what families they come from.”
Renata Limited, Colours FM, imdhaka. com, Meenuapa, Just Juice, bikroy.com, Paper Studio Sound Machine, Dhaka Tribune, Goethe Institut, Quest Videos and Ayesha Khan partnered with VDAY for this event. The City Bank Limited sponsored the show at ISD on Friday.
Read more about the event and the story behind it here.