Humans Of Bombay is a lovely lovely Facebook page. Not very long ago, Kalki Koechlin had opened up about being sexually abused as a child and given a voice to survivors all over. And now, Sapna Bhavnani has shared a heartwarming story about a horrific incident she faced some years ago.
When I was 14, I used to talk to boys; drive motor cycles, smoke cigarettes and people in Bandra would often call me a whore because of those things. I never understood the term back then, but sure if doing all those things made me a whore– I’d take it gladly. After my father’s death, I moved to Chicago where there were so many like me and it gave me the freedom to get inked, experiment with my hair and just be myself. One Christmas Eve in Chicago, I walked out of a bar alone late at night in a short dress and red lipstick. I was 24 and had been drinking, when from a dumpster a group of guys walked upto me and put a gun to my head asking me to give them blow jobs, eventually leading to gang rape. I remember walking home, showering and pushing this incident to the back of my mind for years and never letting it break my spirit – I still wear short dresses and the brightest red on my lips.
In years to come, I got married to my high school sweetheart, faced domestic violence and walked out of the marriage wondering how this could happen to ME, a feminist? It’s because sometimes there are things that are beyond your control. We live in a world where everyone stresses the importance of voicing yourself or walking out of tough situations, but I just want to say this— no one wants to be beaten up, get raped or sell their bodies. It took me 20 years to voice my incident, but for me a woman keeping it all within her because she has no other choice isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a mark of strength and something we need to start respecting.
Thank you for sharing your story, Sapna. This makes a huge difference to rape survivors everywhere. More power to you!