Mahatma Gandhi said that ‘India will be free when the women feel safe to walk in the streets of India in the midnight’. Tweaking the words a bit — As we celebrate our 72nd Independence Day today, DC speaks to cross-section of women celebs to share/recall a moment/incident on the lines of safety when they actually felt independent/liberated.
Nandita Sweta, Actress
IWomen's safety starts from home. Coming from a family of two brothers, I'm thankful that my parents have bought them up in such a way that they respect women and I make sure they and I stand up for women rights and safety in every possible small way. Freedom starts from home! Freedom starts from the mind. That's what I believe in and I wish from now on to respect women and make the world safe for them.
Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, Actress/Filmmaker
I was born and brought up in Kerala and came to Chennai after marriage. I was an entrepreneur then and used to travel a lot alone. I have always felt safe in the city/state. I used to drive home late at night after exhibitions and sale of my products. Even after entering films, I was commuting late nights in autos. The 'fear factor' of being alone was never there. Probably, it is your mindset!
But the same cannot be said in Delhi. I had bitter experiences while staying in the county's capital. I have encountered some experiences abroad as well. One thing has been my strength - self-confidence, which entirely comes from your upbringing. And discipline and character are equally important.
Apart from physical safety, mental strength is the greatest trait for women.
Raai Laxmi, Actress
Safety comes from
3 aspects for me
- Stronger law enforcement for the miscreants
- Better monitoring services by the government and
- Educating the unruly & uncouth segment of the society
Somehow part of my upbringing has always been to travel in someone's company so I haven't faced or seen much personally. But there are enough instances of my friends having gone though trauma of being eve teased. It leaves a bitter taste in the mind and also a fear of stepping out alone.
As for my personal experience I have started leaving an independent life at a very young age. Because of my profession, I have enjoyed a fair share of freedom and liberty of moving around wherever I go! But in today's time I can't take that for granted as so many incidences are happening so often! There's nothing to say that something wrong couldn't have happened.
Divya Sathyaraj, Nutritionist
I was coming back from the clinic at 10pm a couple of days ago. It was drizzling outside. I looked out of the window and saw this pretty girl in tiny shorts and a
T-shirt with a grocery bag in her hand. I was happy to notice that she did not look scared or worried about being out alone on a dark, cloudy night. I believe it is important to have a relaxed state of awareness, but we as women should not allow anybody to tell us how to dress, we should not be threatened by anything or anybody. No country can truly flourish if its women are restricted to be themselves.
Neelima Rani, Actress
The first memory of Independence that I can recollect is when I got married and the first thing my husband and in-laws told me was 'Be Yourself'. Since then, I have been travelling solo for shows and events in the country as well as abroad.
There can be nothing more liberating than travelling because there's a lot of responsibility you carry on your shoulders and that boosts up your confidence like nothing else. I had the freedom to have a kid when I wanted to and my daughter was thus born after 10 years of marriage but there were no pressures from my family. I never had to face restrictions and was always told to have my own space and that to me is independence. For me, independence comes from within you when you acknowledge your own space and also when people support and respect that.
Vaishaly Subramanian, Cinematographer
This is the 72nd Independence Day for India and not for the women of this country. The real freedom a woman gets is when she can do things she loves without making any compromises.
This nightmarish incident happened at my village three years back. Three boys in a car kidnapped a young girl who was walking alone on the road in broad daylight. They took her to the nearby village, made her consume a spiked cool drink and tried to molest her. When some of the villagers spotted and chased them, they put the girl on the motorbike and dropped her at a distance. With their influence, the boys hushed up the case saying she voluntarily came after all four of them had consumed liquor. When the issue came to me, I along with my friends protested for ‘justice to the girl’ and still the case is going on in the court.
This is the pathetic situation of women in our country.
Minnie menon, socialite
Independence means different things to different people. For me it was when I reversed my father's Fiat car rather gingerly out of the gate of our house and went for spin in what those days was a deserted Sterling Road.
I had just got my driving licence ... for me it was such a huge sense of freedom and independence Later in my career in advertising and marketing, due to the pressures of work (and parking !) my chauffeur used to drive me around.
So for many years I did not sit behind the wheel. One day when I looked for my driving licence I could not find it.
I learnt that when moving residence my dear husband may have accidentally torn it up along with some other papers... those were the days of paper licences.
An accident ? Hmmm, I wonder!
So I went through the process of getting a driving licence all over again.
Now, when I drive on weekends (and I like driving alone ), I still feel this sense of liberation ....Freedom on Wheels.
I think the day I earned my college degree was when I felt Independent, not many would know that I completed my engineering from BITS Pilani and this was not something that happened to me by chance. There was a lot of determination and hard work that contributed to it. By then I had already started working in movies and even though I was already earning, I always knew that my education was going to help me if ever I had to step back from the industry. There’s nothing else that can give you the sense of ultimate independence and liberty like education. Education will always have your back.
— with inputs from Uttara Bhattacharya...