From her #MeToo story to a healthy conversation on sex and relationships, the actor-singer says it how it is
New Delhi: "The first step for me is that I believe the women and I believe the survivors. If a victim comes to me for help, the first thing you can do to help is to believe their story," says actor-singer Monica Dogra, who has long been an active campaigner for LGBTQI rights, women empowerment and gender violence.
The 31-year-old musician recently performed in Raasta, New Delhi as a part of Zomato Gold's campaign, The Golden Act, that involves 200 events over a span of 20 days across 200+ restaurants celebrating 100+ artists. She also launched her EP, Seeing Red.
Much like many other women in India, she is happy with the recent #MeToo movement that is taking over social media. "I feel like Indian women feel empowered. I am so happy that people are breaking their silence, I for one know because even I have been silenced many times… sometimes even by other women," she says.
However, she does admit that there is a much larger issue at hand. One that involves removing the taboo surrounding sex and sexuality in India. She says, "Everyone should feel empowered enough to speak up and get support about gender violence, sexual violence or being a victim. I have been a victim too...I don't know a single woman who hasn't. I have been molested inside a rickshaw and I have also been molested by those I thought would protect me… someone touching me inappropriately without me giving them my consent that is sexual violence. Period. But someone politely flirting with me or respectfully show me that they like me is not sexual harassment."
As a survivor of sexual violence herself and having been involved in projects such as sculptor Alex Davis’s STOP installation as part of WAR (Women Art and Resistance), Dogra has no more stories to share but only to heal, which is wise thing indeed. She was one of the few women who came forward with her story of sexual harassment under #MyFirstTime when attacks on women seemed to have reached a new low - Nirbhaya, Shakti Mills and Bengaluru's Night of Horror.
"I have continuously been sharing my stories for the last ten years. I write about it in my music and it comes through in all of my work. When the Nirbhaya case came out, I stood in the audience of Yael Faber’s testimonial play, also called “Nirbhaya”, and spoke about the sexual violence I experienced my whole life. Luckily enough, I felt empowered to break my silence a long ago and it is not necessary for me to reiterate, repoint out the aggressors. The aggressors that I was in the hands of, their upbringing was incorrect and they were from my family. It's not about retribution for me, it is about healing. Now with #MeToo, I hope that a lot of Indian women can begin to heal too.”
Last Updated 12:08 PM IST