The “Vagina Monologues” benefits sexual assault program

Written for JRN 200 on March 3, 2009

The “Vagina Monologues” was performed Feb. 20-21 at the Fairchild Theater and, in addition to inspiring laughter, raised money and awareness for victims of sexual abuse.

Ninety percent of the money that was raised went to MSU’s sexual assault program. The “Vagina Monologues” also raised awareness about sexual assault. The sexual assault program had a resource table in the lobby of the theater.

In addition to providing counseling for sexual assault victims, the sexual assault program provides in-person crisis intervention at police stations and Sparrow Hospital, volunteer opportunities, therapy, support groups, judicial and legal advocacy and runs a 24-hour sexual assault hot line. The program provides all of its services free of charge and serves about 300 clients a year.

According to program director Shari Murgittroyd, the sexual assault program is planning to use the money to benefit direct victim services and to add newer books to its resource library, which has literature about recovery for survivors to read. The program is planning on purchasing cab vouchers to transport sexual assault victims form Sparrow Hospital to their homes. Approximately one-third of these would be used to transport MSU students.

“A big need for victims of sexual assault in the community is emergency transport to and from the hospital,” said Murgittroyd. The program coordinators and hospital staff want to ensure that all victims get home safely, which is why they are purchasing the cab vouchers.

The sexual assault program is an important benefit to both MSU and the Lansing community. All the sexual assault program’s services, except counseling, are available to non-students in the Lansing community. The program also works with Sparrow Hospital’s sexual assault nurse examiner program, which provides medical forensic exams, emergency contraception, preventative treatment for sexually transmitted infections, crisis intervention, referrals, expert witness testimony and educational presentations, all free of charge.

According to Murgittroyd, approximately 25 percent of college women are victims of rape or attempted rape. Only 20 percent of those assaults are what Murgittroyd calls  “stranger rape.” The other 80 percent of assaults are committed by acquaintances of the victim. Only about 30 percent of sexual assaults, on both men and women, are reported to the police.

“The co-directors and the cast are probably the most courageous and talented group of women I have met in a long time,” said Murgittroyd. “They rejuvenated our program and helped provide inspiration to continue doing this very difficult work.” Murgittroyd preformed the play’s introduction, in which she introduced the play and talked about sexual assault.

The “Vagina Monologues” has a history of doing good. Every year productions of the play throughout the country give a portion of their funds to V-Day, an organization that is committed to ending violence against women and girls across the world. This year V-Day is donating its funds to stop the rape of women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ten percent of the proceeds from MSU’s production went to V-Day. The rest of the money went to the sexual assault program.

“We wanted the money to stay within the MSU community,” said co-director Amanda Dubey. “Most of the cast are MSU students and most of the audience is made up of the MSU community. We wanted to take the money spent on tickets and better the community.” Considering the “Vagina Monologues” is about women’s sexuality and it denounces rape, the sexual assault program was an easy choice for the directors.

The “Vagina Monologues” consists of a series of monologues by different actresses about matter relating to the vagina, such as rape, menstruation and birth. Each year, a new monologue is added to highlight V-day’s special cause. The play is meant to put a spotlight on women’s issues, especially abuse.

The play took about five months to produce, from casting to the final production. According to Dubey, the cast practiced every Sunday from winter break to the final production. Those in charge of funds for the show went around to various organizations, such as residence halls, and asked for donations to the play.

Dubey said the “Vagina Monologues” has a lot to teach people. “They can learn about relationships, about violence against women and about experiences women go through,” Dubey said. “They can learn that it’s OK to talk about these topics and break the silence.”

The final amount of money raised has not yet been calculated, but Murgittroyd said she is happy the “Vagina Monologues” chose to benefit the sexual assault center and highlight sexual assault.

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