New Delhi, April 12: Known for her aggressive journalism and to-the-point observation and charges, Barkha Dutt has steered many ideas that have long been ingrained in the society.
However, her face as a feminist, a celebrity journalist, an activist for women's rights has a story behind, a heart wrenching one, which led to her journey from being to becoming. At the Women in the World Summit, held on Friday in New York, Barkha broke her silence about a childhood abuse that she had "kept buried all these years".
She was joined by Dr. Menaka Guruswamy, an attorney at the Supreme Court of India, and host Tina Brown, who hosted the summit and discussed the subjects of gender and violence in India.
Speaking of a childhood incident, which she also chose to write in her recent book 'The Unquiet Land', she said, "I cannot with any honesty write about feminism, call myself a feminist, or talk about the need to lift the veil of silence and the conspiracy of silence around sexual violence and abuse, if I'm not ready to break the silence in my own life."
She further added,"It feels like yesterday, even sitting here today. I'm 44 years old, but I feel like I'm eight years old again. I can see that man's face in my head every time I talk about it."
This happened when she was just 8-years old. Then, she described an incident from college when she learnt her lessons from a man she was dating.
"I did try and come forward because I told myself that I'm not going to be silent. I could understand my silence as a child, but less so as an adult."
However, she was dissuaded by her lawyers who said, "You're going to waste your time. You're going to be in court for the next 25 years. Nobody is going to believe you. You were dating this guy. They're not going to even punish him. Just forget about it. Feel I should not have listened to those lawyers. I feel I should not have been defeatist. I should have gone to court because so what if it takes 20 years, it's important."
Talking about the contradictory cultures prevalent in India, Dutt brought the hypocrisy to the fore by showing how women are celebrated in all the aspects of life on the one hand, while on the other rapes them within the confines of matrimony.
"(A law has) gone twice to Parliament, and parties that are headed by women have sent it back, as if to suggest that marriage is a license to rape. India is caught in the middle of that contradiction."
The session ended with Nirbhaya' story and how it encouraged more and more women to come out in the open with their stories and without any shame.