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Women’s Day is all about celebrating the best in us women. Eleanor Roosevelt had famously said “A woman is like a teabag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” While society loves to take this strength for granted, and only heaps more challenges on our gender, a tribute to resilience is certainly in order. As a celebration of the unputdownable, we bring you a list of some glorious Indian women -battered, bruised and abused- yet rejecting victimhood.
A tribal woman living in Chhattisgarh, framed as a Naxal informant, raped and tortured in custody by the State police, threatened with inhuman abuse of her as well as her daughters and then attacked with acid in February 2016. But, barely a month after the attack, Soni Sori stood tall among hundreds of students in Jawaharlal Nehru University, and spoke with tenacity about standing up against State oppression. With a face charred beyond recognition, but with the recognisable tenor that characterises women who conform, back down or remain silent.
Gang-raped at the age of 15, Krishnan fought against naysayers and founded ‘Prjawala’, an organisation that has acted as the urgent anchor for survivors of human trafficking. She has made her mission to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate women caught in the web of forced prostitution. Reversing the culture of victim-blaming, Krishnan recently started the “Shame the Rapist” campaign. “Society makes you feel cheap. I chose not to feel like a victim. I am not a victim. I am a survivor”, she says.
She is known best as the sister of actor Kangana Ranaut, but she made headlines when her ex-lover attacked her with acid. After 57 surgeries, a dysfunctional breast, 90% vision lost in one of her eyes and more mental scars than imaginable, Rangoli is eager to shed the baggage of victimhood. What is noteworthy is the support she received from her trailblazing sister Kangana, and the dignified silence the two had chosen to maintain about the gruesome attack. Rangoli now is now happily married, and has teamed up with her sister as her manager.
She was just 15 years old, when a 32-year old man attacked her with acid after she refused his hand in marriage. Since then, she has been a strong voice in advocating rehabilitation for survivors of acid attacks, a crime for which there was no law in the country until recently. Giving hope to many women like her, she and her partner Aloke Dixit recently introduced their daughter Pihu to the world. The also jointly run the ‘Stop Acid Attack Campaign’. In an attempt to redefine the narrow notions of beauty, Laxmi was recently chosen as the brand ambassador of the Indian fashion brand ‘Viva and Diva’.
Known as a firebrand journalist who has taken on many a challenge with aplomb, Dutt recently opened up about having been sexually abused as a child. A senior journalist forever in the public eye, Dutt’s bold decision to speak up about surviving the abuse has gone a long way in contributing to the discourse of ‘survivor-hood’ instead of ‘victimhood’, of shedding the yoke of shame and initiating conversations about recovering from the trauma.
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