Farhan Akhtar Writes A Hard Hitting Open Letter To His Daughter On Rape

By Ashmita, 03 Oct 2016

In an initiative by Hindustan Times, an eight part series ‘Let’s talk about rape’, Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar has talked about the issue of rape and sexual assault in a heart warming open letter to his daughter.

 

Farhan Akhtar is a feminist and is also the founder member of MARD ( Men Against Rape and Discrimination) which aims at raising social awareness about sexual violence

 

“Dear Daughter,

How do I even start writing to you about sexual violence and rape? My instinct, any father’s instinct, is to protect and nurture, but it is an issue that we must confront and discuss. Let me start, dear child, by quoting from a poem I wrote after the brutal murder of a sprightly lawyer in my team in 2013. You were too young then, only 12, and all I wanted was to see you smile and feel brave and invincible, like you did. The attempted rape and murder was too dark a subject for me to bring up then.

Now, you’re 16 and I can read the questions in your mind. Yes, the same questions that I find myself asking:

 

What is this country that I live in?

That takes away her right to love

Brutalises her with an iron glove

Rapes her without fear

of there being justice for her tear…

…what do I tell my daughter?

That she’s growing up to be lamb for the slaughter

we’ve got to make a change

Reboot, reformat, rearrange,

and never give in

no matter how much our head may spin

Just keep asking the question

What is this country that I live in?”

 

Farhan talks to his daughter Shakya about how each person is the master of their body and soul and absolutely no one has the right to touch you without your consent.

“I know your head spins. I know your young mind grapples with how we treat our women. We’ve tried, as parents should do, of teaching you the importance of equality, of never ever making a distinction between boys and girls, of introducing you to the concept of choice; of even talking to you about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’. We have open conversations. As parents, we’ve told you, if you’re uncomfortable with anyone touching you, that’s a bad touch and you cannot allow it to happen. You should tell that person, I don’t like it. Don’t think that because you’re a kid, someone is allowed to do something to you. I’ve explained to you that if you’re not in the mood for a hug even from me, I should not touch you. The right to your body is yours and yours alone.”

He further tells her all over again that she possesses all the rights to choose whatever she wishes for, even if that is a choice of having blue hair. He, in other words, guide other parents to do the same with their daughters.

“I know too, from your Facebook posts, that as you spread your wings to fly into this world, you are troubled and annoyed. Why can’t I wear what I want to wear? Why can’t I pick my identity? Why can’t I be free in the true sense of the word free?

Yes, in Bollywood Yet, as a father, I can’t put my head in the sand because there are certain realities around us. We live in an unsafe, largely unequal world . We have never told you what not to wear or don’t go out. You can have blue hair if that’s what you want. You are growing to be a confident, independent and conscious young woman. You’ve spoken to me about the movies our industry makes, about how women are sometimes portrayed as ‘objects’ and I’ve always tried to answer your questions. It gives me great pleasure to speak with you about women and gender issues..”

 

Farhan also tosses light on the subject how Bollywood has always been objectifying women. He feels sad about the fact that over the years, love in movies has been portrayed with the bad guy stalking a girl until she agrees to be with him, or in fact, falls back in love.

 

“Yes, in Bollywood — and Zoya and I are conscious of crudity and vulgarity — the eye of the camera often goes on overdrive. As an industry, we are guilty of normalising the invasion of a woman’s space, the woman’s body. Those watching our movies think it is ‘normal’ to harass a college or a village girl even when the girl is saying she’s not interested. You must also have seen movies in which the entire supporting cast conspires to help the ‘hero’ know the girl he’s interested in. They get together to help him (not her); they block her path wherever she goes. They conspire to bring them face to face, to the point where he’ll hold her, catch her dress, even jump on top of her in some instances. Such behaviour — which flies in the face of consent that I’ve always tried to talk to you about — has been normalised by movies. Stalking , unfortunately, has become a mutated form of cinematic romance.

As a filmmaker, I need to be wary of such visualisation. We can’t put a blindfold around our eyes and say, I’m doing this for entertainment, or believe that it has no influence on the audiences. Our fans gather around us in the hundreds, even thousands, and they’re there because of our work, because they idolise us, because they’re in love with our screen image. That bestows on us a great sense of responsibility. I too, dear daughter, function in a field where, like you, I’m constantly battling for freedom of speech, of expression, of creative expression.

Rape and sexual harassment have often figured in movies. Earlier, the ‘bad guy’ was always the villain but think about it, the villain who used to be the stalker in college, for example, has now been replaced by the hero. Step back and see and what you’ll realise is that the creep you hated in movies is the one who is ‘getting’ the girl. Worse, the girl ends up believing that he’s stalking her because he loves her and she ends up thinking, ‘he must really love me’.”

At the end, he talks about the importance of communication between parents and their children and how he will always have his daughters’ back.

 

“You and I have always had open conversations. We’ve always understood the importance of communication. I do worry about you when you’re out as any father would do. But like all fathers, I want you to remember that through your journey in life, you have a friend in me. You must always chase your dreams and live your life with freedom. Of course, be safe. You know what safe is. Have your wits about you. Be smart and be in control of yourself.

 

And as you ask yourself the question, what is this country that I live in, always remember:

 

I understand you little girl

Your rage, your surprise

Your confusion about the beast in human disguise

I stand with you, little girl, I stand with you

Yours,
Dad”

 

Comments

8 Hair Masks That Will Help You Manage Frizzy Hair This Winters

The cold just makes the hair dry, listless, frizzy and simply unmanageable.But just when you thought... By Pratyasha , 02 Jan 2017

Sonam Kapoor Comes Forward To Share Her Traumatizing Experience Of Being...

It is sad to say that every girl once or more than once has witness episodes of molestation and eve-teasing that further left them distressed and oppressed. By Mamta, 20 Dec 2016

14 Things Every Woman Wants To Tell Her Mother In Law

realtionships, woman to her mother in law, relationship with mother inlaws, things to tell mom in la... By Shraya, 05 Dec 2016

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Pie Is The Best Fix For Your Sugar Cr...

If you are planning to have a lazy weekend where you just want to gorge on some scrumptious food and stay tucked in your warm cozy blanket, then there is nothing better than having some dark chocolate... By Mamta, 10 Dec 2016

13 Life Saving Ingenious Beauty Tricks To Use When You’re Running Late

When it comes to getting ready in the morning, all women need their time, especially when it comes t... By Shraya, 18 Nov 2016

7 Budget Friendly Hen Do Destinations

Wedding season is here and most of you already would have decided to throw a perfect hen party for the bride to be and in case you haven’t thought of the perfect hen party destination for your bride-t... By Ashmita, 02 Dec 2016

A Glimpse In To The Life Of A Chashmish

If you suffer from a slightly deficient set of eyes like me then you probably are acquainted with th... By Shraya, 15 Nov 2016

10 Unromantic Truths You Need To Know To Strengthen Your Relationship

Love is more than simply hearts and kisses, but it's something worth fighting for. When it comes to relationships, there is always more than meets the eye. By Shraya, 12 Nov 2016

DIY Lights To Illuminate Your Home This Diwali

Lighting up your home is the best way to add a little glamour to your surroundings while, at the sam... By Shraya, 24 Oct 2016

The 12 Step Guide To Making Your Closet More Spacious

Keeping your closet space uncluttered is usually harder than you think and in most cases, it’s the primal reason why you closet not only looks like it just braced a hurricane, but also why it looks sm... By Shraya, 22 Oct 2016

7 Absolutely Lip Smacking Pumpkin Desserts To Enjoy This Fall

It’s that time of the year again when we are prepping up for the festivities and planning for some f... By Ashmita, 08 Oct 2016

9 Types Of Shoes That Every Girl Must Have In Her Wardrobe!

A functional wardrobe is one of the secrets to any woman’s success because, despite what you may believe, appearance does matter. By Shraya, 21 Nov 2016

13 Beauty memes that’ll definitely get you laughing in seconds

Nothing can bring up your mood like a good meme. And the only thing better than a funny meme is defi... By Shraya, 03 Oct 2016

15 Questions All Single Women Are Tired Of Hearing

No matter how much happy and carefree we are being single, somehow the world finds it really hard to digest. The very fact that single girls are independent and just love their freedom By Ashmita, 28 Sep 2016

15 Genius Beauty Hacks Every Girl Should Know

All of us are always on the lookout for a new technique or method that’ll make our daily beauty rout... By Shraya, 10 Sep 2016

10 Things That Happy Couples Do Differently

As no two snowflakes are alike, neither are any two relationships. But the fact that most relationships these days are filled with joy in the initial stages and slowly By Shraya, 09 Sep 2016

5 Three-Ingredient Desserts That Are So Easy You Should Try Them Right N...

These insanely easy and simple dessert recipes which can be made from just three ingredients are so ... By Tanvi, 04 Jan 2017

10 Types Of Pictures That Every Girl Posts On Social Media

Recently I was intrigued how people were so busy updating their social lives online. I mean I always felt like, ohk there is nothing bad about it, but… really? Everything? From facebook to twitter and... By Tanvi, 27 Nov 2016

13 Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar That Can Do Wonders To Your Health

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) should be an absolute staple in our diets. Since ancient times, this drink... By Tanvi, 20 Oct 2016

8 Yoga Exercises To Begin Your Day With

While we understand that doing Yoga early in the morning can be quite torturous, the benefits are manifold, although it doesn’t mean you can’t practice it in the evening. The practice of Yoga yields s... By Shivani, 29 Aug 2016

We Asked 15 Women To Give One Trait Of Men That Makes Them Irresistible,...

We talked to few women and asked them what they think that makes a guy irresistible and they gave us... By Tanvi, 29 Aug 2016

Here’s Why Girls Find Bad Boys So Irresistible!

We know it’s a bit cruel to categorize men for falling into one of the two categories, but what’s funny is women still picking the bad ones over the good! Women will get their heart ripped out by the ... By Shivani, 08 Sep 2016

12 Things All Women Do But Would Never Ever Accept

Being a member of the fairer sex I admit, there’s a vast amount of things that I and all other women... By Shraya, 29 Aug 2016

Tame YOUR Frizzy Hair This Monsoon With These Best And Effective Tips

Don’t you ask the same question every year around this time? Of course you do because the hardest and the most problematic time for our hair is the monsoon season which is knocking at our doors. It is... By Ashmita, 08 Sep 2016