During a song launch of the film 102 Not Out, Amitabh Bachchan was asked to comment on the recent instances of rape in Unnao, Surat, and Kathua. Here is what the superstar had to say: "Even discussing this issue feels disgusting, don't bring up this issue. It is terrible to even talk about it."
What’s most odd about his statement is that he also happens to be the brand ambassador of India's 'Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’. And when a celebrity of his stature refuses to even talk about it because the issue is apparently ‘disgusting’ it reflects a lot on what we as a society feel about rape and sexual assault. Hush hush.
Only yesterday, child rights NGO released a report that showed a sexual offence is committed against a child in India every 15 minutes, and yet, Mr Bachchan thought it’s better not to talk about the issue. And, how is that going to really help?
When the reports of Kathua rape chargesheet surfaced in the media a week back and the barbaric details of how an eight-year-old was drugged, starved, raped and murdered emerged, I am certain we have all had that one moment, when we could not read further. The details were cruel, and it made us nauseous. It also showed what kind of monsters we have among us.
It was disturbing and painful to read what an eight-year-old went through. Even Mr Bachchan, (as well as every celebrity,) is entitled to have one such moment. That moment shows that we are human beings and as people of a civilized race we squirm at the unimaginable cruelty that the little girl had to endure.
However, if we use that as an excuse to turn a blind eye to the rape cases in our country and decide that is it too terrible a topic to talk about, we fail to support the victims. What is worse is we also fail as a civilized society which apparently cares for women and their safety.
Therefore, Mr Bachchan, no matter how 'disgusting' the issue may make you feel, it is your responsibility to address it. When a superstar like you addresses incidents of rapes instead of saying, "don't bring up this issue" you give voice to the victims who are often dismissed by the police and the system.
The Unnao rape survivor endured the death of her father and had to fight a lot of battles against a powerful MLA of Uttar Pradesh before the national media as well the public (and celebrities) started paying attention to her case. They need voices like yours.
Our silence on rape cases helps the rapists, not the victims. Therefore, it is important to address the issue at every opportunity we get. Yes, step out for those rallies and vent out on social media if you wish. Anything is better than avoiding the topic because it is uncomfortable to talk about.
Let’s talk about the horrifying instances, let’s send out a message, and let’s tell the perpetrators of sexual assaults that their cruel acts won’t go unpunished.
Mr Bachchan, it isn't enough to pen down an open letter to your granddaughters about their rights as a woman when you have a movie coming up. As the brand ambassador of Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao movement, it should be your prerogative to publically address incidents of sexual violence.
Please don’t ask reporters to not ‘bring up this issue’. Because, it’s time to speak up.