By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Saturday's protest ended with a free performance of the Vagina Monologues in Spanish and English, featuring the Mexican actors Lilia Aragon, Marinitia Escobedo, and Laura Floresand Fonda, Field, and Lahtiat a packed local dance hall. Ensler made the important gesture of including monologues (in addition to standards like "Bob," about a vagina-friendly man) that spoke directly to international violence against women. There was a long, moving performance in Spanish about the rape and assassination of women in Kosovo. And Field, occasionally crying, did a piece that focused on spousal acid burning in Islamabad and female disfigurement from bombing in Iraq before she ended with the situation in Juarez. American folk singer Holly Nearleading a chant for "ni una mas"performed a song for Juarez that also targeted violence in Chile and Guatemala.
Global in focus, V-Day and Amnesty assert that the Juarez crimes are a human-rights scandal. And so while groups like Women in White, a government-sponsored activist partyand even a selection of victim's motherswere said to oppose the protest in part on the grounds that the vocal agitating lacked dignity, Ensler made savvy choices: pointing to the worldwide problem of gender violence, she didn't single out Juarez for blame.
The Vagina Monologues clearly inspired and often amused its audience. Fonda played a woman who regards her vagina distantly as a "red leather couch" or a "mink-lined muffler," and another piece ran the gamut of orgasm types: "mariachi," "diva," "triple," etc. But the divide between the monologues' occasionally playful content and the issue of unsolved murder at times felt awkward. While the crowd for the most part whooped and roared enthusiastically throughout the show, a group of three mothers whom I recognized from the previous day's press conferencesitting in the front row, placards of their daughters' faces hanging over their chestssilently stood up and walked out mid-way through.
The mothers remain optimistic, but not overly so. In October, Vincente Fox appointed a special federal commissioner, Maria Guadalupe Morfín, to monitor the state's work, and last month, he appointed a special federal prosecutor, Maria Lopez Urbina, to run her own investigations. But for these appointments to be effective, they have to be well funded, and there's no promise yet that Fox won't be as effectively neglectful of the situation in Juarez as he has been since his election. Asked at the press conference if she had hope in Lopez, one mother replied, simply, "We hope to have hope in her." Ensler, for her part, declared Saturday V-day for "victory": the march was the largest in 10 years of anti-violence activism in the city. As one lawyer for several mothers stated, "This is the only thing that has pressured the government." Ensler vowed, "We will keep coming back to Juarez until women are free and safe."