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Sunitha was gang-raped by 8 men when she was in her teenage. She said, she doesn’t remember the rape part of it as much as she remembers the anger, the rage.
You might be reading this article while your daughter, mother, wife, sister is around you. Some might be getting ready for office, school, some preparing food for you. What a privilege it is to feel empowered in a male-dominated and patriarchal society.
Just like that, I thought of attending TED talk in my city one day. Amongst the three speakers, by default, I felt that I must attend Ms Sunitha Krishnan talk. I haven’t heard of that name before. I walked into the room with an audience around 400. After a few minutes, as time passed wondering what the talk is about. A woman in a solid red kurta, with her hair tied up tight in a bun, almost height of about 4 ft 11 inches appeared on stage.
She appeared to be confident. As she started three images appeared on the screen. She said this is Pranitha, Shaheen and Anjali. Believe me or not all three of them looked so familiar as if they were the girls I see every day near my colony playing. They were aged around 3-4 years. But as Sunitha started speaking about them I realized no, they might look same and identified but their story is not at all identified. Pranitha was sold to a broker by her mother, later she was found raped and suffering from HIV+ virus. Shaheen was found on railway tracks, nothing is known about her, just her condition indicating that she has been raped and molested by a number of men.
By this time, the audience could feel the seriousness of the issue. But it didn’t end here. Sunitha took a brief pause and then revealed the figure. Almost 3200 girls have been rescued and reintegrated by her, girls from the age of 4 to women of the age of 40. These girls were in a web of commercial sexual exploitation, flesh trade and much more. They have to go through molestation and are raped by multiple men. The pain ran through my nerve as Sunitha showed the pictures of girls. Everybody in the hall could feel it, it was disturbing for some, for some it was shocking and eye-opening.
Sunitha was gang-raped by 8 men when she was in her teenage. She said, she doesn’t remember the rape part of it as much as she remembers the anger, the rage. She consciously remembers the isolation she had to face by society. Her treatment by society after that incident. Victimization of the victim that’s what she called it, we, as a society can do. Sunitha decided to take power from her pain and the same she did to rescue all those strong girls, who are now more powerful as they are self- dependent. They work in the male-dominated field be it welding, construction etc. They are fearless. As they have conquered the greatest fear to humanity.
Just a quick look, who are these people, the perpetrators? Well, yes. But before that they are someone’s father, husband, brother, uncle. They are around us. It’s hard to accept it this way. Sunitha has done her bit, she is selflessly, fearlessly fighting this cruelty. What’s on our part, can we then at least stop isolating those powerful girls. Can we start being human and accept them with little love and respect? Can we open our minds which are corroded since last many years of patriarchy? Can we open our heart?
This will lead us to a better path, where Pranitha, Shaheen and Anjali and all those girls will be the same as us, as your sisters, wife or mother. We can’t recognize their pain; can we recognize their power?
Image via YouTube
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
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