Yoni Ki Baat: South Asian Vagina Monologues

Desi women express their challenges, breakdowns, and aspirations for change.

Drashhti Bilimoria, Scarlet Staff

On Feb. 24, 2018, Clarkies gathered in the Grind for South Asian Student Association (SASA)’s annual presentation of Yoni Ki Baat (YKB): South Asian Vagina Monologues.

Host Maha Akbar (‘20) took the stage at the beginning of the event to provide audience members with some information on what YKB was all about.

“Yoni,” Akbar explained, means vagina in Hindi, and “Baat” means dialogue, so the title roughly translates to “Talks of the Vagina.”

The purpose of YKB, Akbar continued, is to shed light on violence and oppression while working towards ending the stigma many South Asian women feel regarding their bodies and lives.

YKB was inspired by Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” and adapted by the South Asian Sisters, a non-profit based in the San Francisco Bay area.

What separates the Vagina Monologues from YKB is that YKB provides South Asian women a chance to express themselves and discuss topics that are otherwise considered to be “apshagun” (or inauspicious, a word later used in a piece performed by Tenzing Gurung (‘19)) and taboo in the South Asian community.

As of the year 2012, South Asian Sisters has provided eight scripts for campuses and organizations who wanted to host their own Yoni Ki Baat.

Students participating in YKB performed monologues that were both original and scripted by the South Asian Sisters, with short introductions given by Akbar in between each one. Themes of the pieces varied, including but not limited to, the struggles that come with being mixed race, dealing with being “undesirable” to South Asian men in comparison with white women, female feticide, living in an oppressive society, and the difficulties of not belonging fully to one culture or another. Other monologues discussed influential South Asian women and playing an active role in society today.

The show was split into two parts, with a short intermission (and samosas) for the audience. The intermission allowed audience members and performers to mingle while partaking in discussions about the pieces.

In all, SASA’s production of Yoni Ki Baat was a success, and allowed the Clark community to gain insight to some of the struggles South Asian women on and off campus face.