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#LetsTalkAboutRape: HT readers respond to Farhan Akhtar’s open letter

india Updated: Oct 04, 2016 14:31 IST
In part 1 of our series, Let’s Talk About Rape, actor Farhan Akhtar wrote a letter to his daughter, discussing how important it is for them to realise that they own their bodies, no one else.
In part 1 of our series, Let’s Talk About Rape, actor Farhan Akhtar wrote a letter to his daughter, discussing how important it is for them to realise that they own their bodies, no one else. (Shivam Saxena/HT Photo)

Hindustan Times’ series, Let’s Talk About Rape, aims at igniting a spirited, unvarnished, no-holds barred conversation around the reality of sexual assault in India. We have roped in eight eminent Indians to write open letters about the reality of sexual assault in India. We asked you, our readers, to join in the conversation.

In part 1 of the series, actor Farhan Akhtar wrote a letter to his daughter, discussing how important it is for them to realise that they own their bodies, no one else.

Here are edited excerpts from letters our readers sent in as a response to Akhtar’s letter.

Sripriya Mozumdar:

Artist Sripriya Mozumdar sent us her painting and verses from her poem, ‘It’s a girl’, which depict her anguish at the treatment of women in society.

Dear Farhan, HT and my fellow citizens of India,

Rape - a four-letter word that has made tremendous progress in Independent India - going from whispered cringing utterances to loud screaming headlines.

Rape - that is so casually bandied about in cinematic depictions as to seem part of normal ‘Hindi film masala’.

Rape - also just a more formal word for the numerous other informal ways of mistreating the woman

Rape - the extreme symptom of a deep festering sore in the mental psyche of a society ...

Sripriya writes about the treatment of women in society.

“At times a deity, at times a doormat.

A goddess or a prostitute.

Society - you suit yourself.

Deification or masked subjugation.

I condemn both.”

An image of Bloodline, an oil-on-canvas painting, sent by HT reader Sripriya Mozumdar in response to our series, Let’s Talk About Rape. (PAINTING: Sripriya Mozumdar)

Another poem addresses “oppressors”:

“You stare at my body; but you cannot see my soul.

You tear my clothes; but cannot shred my spirit.

You claw at my skin; but cannot mutilate my resolve.

You search for a virgin; but never seek the female within.

You touch my body; but cannot reach the Inviolate Me!”

Subbiah Sridhar criticises film industry, calls for censorship.

“Recently, megastar Mr. Amitabh Bachchan had said that he feels embarrassed when he goes abroad and people there call our nation a ‘land of rapes’. He further said at the press conference of the film ‘Pink’ that we all must work to make India a first-world nation. While what he opined is absolutely true and his feelings are fully justified but at the same time will he not accept that many of the latest Bollywood movies are themselves featuring abhorrent scenes and dialogues which definitely, to some ratio, add to the negative impulse perpetrated by the anti-social elements culminating in dastardly acts like committing rapes, broad daylight killings.

Is it not high time that censorship is strictly implemented? Is it not time when Bollywood movies are released and all kinds of dirty scenes, acts and dialogues are completely removed from the movies? Acting is an art and to attain popularity there should be no need for showcasing one’s body in the films or acting or dancing in a provocative or indecent manner, thereby spoiling the minds of vulnerable audience.”

Kirti Asija writes about gender and identity:

I abhor the concept of gender biasing and what it results in is judgement of one’s sexuality...Yes, we do like men in moustaches, beards, tees, etc. But many women also have facial hair. Who the hell has created the necessity of women having all the time waxed legs and arms and we all know what more?! And yes. We do like women in kurtis, sarees, and other ‘girly stuff’. But just let us not turn our heads all the way round in a street when we see a man wearing such clothes or wearing anything, which in our opinion is not masculine. World has already so many issues to deal with; nuclear wars, water wars, political wars etc. So let us not make a great big deal out of what a particular gender must wear. Let us not be subjugated by the blind ideas of the society. Om! Amen!

Palak Singh writes about ‘global brutalisation’ of women:

Women around the world routinely suffer from beatings,rape,torture,murder--millions of women live in a constant state of isolation,terror,fear. Escape is nearly impossible. The many types of global brutalisation against women include female genital mutilation,sexual slavery, honour killing, acid attack,trafficking, dowry death, rape and intimate partner violence. Moreover these practices are often supported by patriarchal ideologies or policies that maintain the social conditions and cultural framework that accept women’s brutalisation.Thousands of women are brutalised and sold into sex slavery by Islamic State militants.

A man coming home late, drinking and partying late night, is considered cool by our society but if a woman does such things then she is considered characterless, cheap, or a prostitute. Is this justified?

Women should be respected. Let them live their life fully, with a sense of self worth, respect and dignity.

Read part 2 of the series, where boxer Mary Kom writes a letter to her sons. Join the conversation about rape, tweet to @httweets with #LetsTalkAboutRape

Want to have your voice featured in the Hindustan Times? Send us your entries at htwebresponse@hindustantimes.com and we will feature the best responses.