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V-Day events set to campaign against abuse

Stage performances in Korea will help raise funds for local women’s charities and campaign against abuse, with the first two this weekend in Busan.

They are part of V-Day, an international movement started by “Vagina Monologues” author Eve Ensler, which campaigns to stop violence against women and girls. The events are based around awareness- and fund-raising performances.

The Busan performances are being run by Rachel Werz and Sherita Rogers, who also organized a “Black Lives Matter” solidarity march in the city.

Werz said that after being involved in last year’s Busan V-day performance, she was encouraged to take over this year thanks to the strong community support for the project.

“We chose to do MMRP because we really believe in the power of these stories of women and men, and how they all paint a bigger picture of the struggle to stop global violence against women,” said Werz.

The organizers say that Busan V-Day events, now in their sixth year, have raised 25 million won ($23,000) in total, 90 percent of it going to local charities such as House of Sharing, Sae Gil Women’s Shelter, and Salim Women’s Shelter.

V-Day events send 90 percent of their funds to local causes, the other 10 percent going to V-Day’s international campaign.

“We have chosen Sae Gil Busan women’s shelter as our beneficiary every year because of the desperate need for more support of abused women and their children throughout Korea,” said Werz.

Anastasia Linz, a volunteer coordinator at the shelter, said recent regulations have had a negative effect on the women at the shelter and made the help it offers even more important.

“Unfortunately, in 2011, the government started requiring a home address to receive aid. Considering the women at the shelter are victims of domestic violence, they cannot return home to receive their checks,” she said. “There is a huge need to support these women in Korea and their children, because they are largely ignored by the government and the general public.”

Gwangju will also be hosting a performance of “A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer,” in aid of Our House, Korea Women’s Hot Line and Gwangju Settler Women Support Center.

Ph.D. student Ynell Lumantao, who runs the Gwangju event with Calen Cygen, said the cause of stopping violence against women was important to her, particularly as a Filipino woman in Korea.

“I’m not married to a Korean but there are many Filipino women who are and some of them have suffered violence from their husbands. I want them to rise and know that violence should not be tolerated,” she said, adding that four of the 25 MMRP cast are Filipino.

V-Day performances in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, have been held since 2009. This year’s event, in late April, will be held in aid of Naeil Yeoneun Jip, a women’s shelter in Munsan, just outside the city.

Unlike the others, they will be performing the traditional “Vagina Monologues” script.

“In 2013 we did ‘A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, A Prayer,’ which I enjoyed because there are men in that show along with women, but we thought the ‘Vagina Monologues’ play had a stronger, more upbeat script so we’ve stuck with that for the last two years,” said Kylie Genter, who runs fund-raisers and promotions for the event.

“The best part of V-Day in Jinju for me has been the sense of community,” she said. “My first year I was involved it helped me meet a lot of people that I’ve become really close with.”

The Busan performances of “A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer” will be held at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday at Monk Jazz Club in the Kyungsung University Area. Entry is 15,000 won. You can find out more on the V-Day Busan 2015 Facebook page.

The Gwangju Performance will be at Yunbaram Theater at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on April 4 and at 3 p.m. on April 5. Tickets are 10,000 won.

Jinju’s performance of the “Vagina Monologues” will be at 7:30 p.m. on April 25 at Hyunjang Arts Hall. Tickets are 10,000 won.

By Paul Kerry (