Van Anh and Thanh start the recorded music at CSAGA’s Sharing Together Club meeting. They invite the women to stand and sway to the rhythm.
“Take a step,” Thanh directs. “Now, go anywhere you want!” They run into each other unexpectedly, laughing in surprise (Giang, like a whispering sports announcer, explains, “This allows for fun, freedom to be themselves, a reminder that they are not alone.”)
As the music speeds up, Thanh invites the women to form a line, then zigzag and hop. The women hang on, steadying each other, laughing (Giang: “Many victims will not allow themselves to be touched or to touch others. This is progress!”)
Van Anh gives out stuffed animals and invites each group to create a story about domestic violence. Giang keeps up a running commentary: “The neighbor convinces the wife to get help. Then the counselor balls out the husband!” The women dissolve in gales of glee.
The other group is just finishing. Giang summarizes: “The couple just had a second daughter. The father wanted a son and insists on having more children until he gets one. He beats his wife so she will have sex.” No one is laughing.
Nguyen Van Ahn won the 2008 Women’s eNews’ 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.