Gone are the days when celebrities feared to open up about their personal battles and traumas. Now, understanding their responsibility towards the thousands and millions of their fans, they are speaking up about their fears and trials and tribulations, just so that maybe someone could be inspired.
The world lauded when Deepika Padukone openly talked about her depression to let the world know that celebrities are not infallible, expounding on the importance of mental health. Kalki Koechlin stunned everyone when she talked about being sexually abused as a child. The world was shocked as the ever smiling Oprah Winfrey talked about her experience when she was molested by her cousins and family friend. Pop queen Lady Gaga too revealed she was raped at 19.
These powerful women have shared their tales to let the world know how cruel and brutal the world is and no matter how successful they are or how glamorous life they lead it has not been a cake walk.
As part of a social campaign called #LetsTalkAboutRape, an initiative by the Hindustan Times, eminent personalities from many sections have come together to write open letter about rape and sexual abuses. Bollywood actor-director Farhan Akhtar started the series on Monday (October 3) with a open letter to his daughters on sexual violence.
Adding to this series Olympian boxer Mary Kom has now written a powerful and emotional letter to her sons, sharing her experience on sexual violence. A woman of substance, Kom shares that she was “molested first in Manipur and then again while she was out with her girl friends in Delhi and Haryana’s Hissar.”
Kom, a six-time champion at the World Amateur Boxing Championship and gold medal winner at 2003 Asian Games, writes, “I know it is shocking to learn that even a woman who has earned her spurs, boxing her way through life, was made to feel violated.”
In her moving letter not only she has opened up about her sad experiences but also strikes to break myth of gender roles. To her three sons (twins,9, and 3), she talks about traditional gender roles and duties performed by men and women in our society. “You grow up in a home where we teach you respect and equality. Your father does not go out to do a nine-to-five job – like you see your friend’s dads doing – because one of us must always be there for you.”
The dotting mother and Member of the Parliament warns, “I have the utmost respect for your father who now dedicates his time for me and for you all. You will soon hear the words “house husband” but remember that’s not a slur; neither is it derogatory. He’s my strength, my partner, who walks with me through every step I take.”
In her gripping letter, she also enlightens her sons about the unfortunate, yet predominant, racial discrimination faced by the people of north-east in this country. “You might be walking with me one of these days to hear your mother being called a ‘chinky’. That is a slur. That is racist.” She reaffirms that she is an Indian and that her children are growing up to become proud Indians too.
The world champion sadly writes, “My country has given me fame and recognition but I am not recognised by each person on the road – as an MS Dhoni or a Virat Kohli will most certainly be – but I do not deserve to be called ‘chinky’.”
And what she ends her letter with what every woman and mother should teach their sons to make this world a better place. “I would fail in my duty as a mother, if I did not tell you – all great sons of this country – that we alone have rights to our bodies. Respect women when they say ‘No’. Don’t stalk them to death because they have said ‘No’. Rape is not about sex; it is only about a misplaced sense of power and revenge,” Kom brilliantly puts it.
“Desire is beautiful when it is reciprocal. We have often heard the explanation of ‘boys will be boys’. Let’s build a society where girls can be safe, secure and respected,” Kom writes. This is the best possible way the Padma Bhusan awardee has spread the perfect message to not only her young sons but also to the mothers like her. Her letter highlights that how important is a role of a parent in teaching kids about the right and wrong; the good and bad.