Nirbhaya – Yael Farber ( India/Uk )
‘Her story cut my tongue and made me bleed words’ was the statement of one of the actresses on stage during last night’s performance of ‘Nirbhaya’ at Contact theatre – except these women were not actresses. Each female with raw emotion described and reenacted their real experience of sexual violence in a way that many will never forget.
Prepare to be affected deeply as the women on stage explained that on the night of 16th December 2012, when a young woman described in the papers as ‘Nirbhaya’ ( fearless ) was brutally gang-raped by drunk men on a Delhi bus, it set a ripple of change in motion.
Thirteen days later, Jyoti’s death helped countless women and men break the silence that surrounds global gender-based violence. The searing testimonials tear away at shame, bringing these hard-hitting experiences to the forefront in one of the most powerful ways ever seen at theatre.
If you haven’t been yet, you must see it. In a world where according to a 2013 global review of available data, 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence, change must take place. National violence studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner. The most shocking statistic is that around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives.
What this play does is bring these statistics as close to the human experience as possible, makes you see what is taken away from individuals, both male and female, when sexual violation takes place and changes their lives forever. Incredibly powerful and necessary are not words that do this justice.
The cast members were the most humble and beautiful women I had ever met especially Sneha and Jagjit as we had the pleasure of a post show discussion with the cast and Dr Catherine White, clinical director of St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Manchester. The play will be touring across the country and then on to New York. Book your seats and prepare to be inspired. Tissues will be handy too. X