A six-time champion at the World Amateur Boxing Championship, Gold Medalist at the Asian Games and a Bronze medal at the Olympics 2012, the pride of our nation and a true inspiration for women, Mary Kom, is one of the highly respected Indian sportspersons.
It came as a huge surprise when this successful boxer had revealed that she also had to face sexual abuses in this patriarchal society. Mary Kom wrote an open letter to her sons as part of the ongoing social campaign #LetsTalkAboutRape and she has revealed that she was molested more than once.
"Dear Sons, Let's talk about sexual crimes against women. Every single day, women are being stalked, molested and raped. Let me start by telling you that your mother was molested, first in Manipur and then again while I was out with my friends in Delhi and Haryana's Hissar. I know it is shocking to learn that even a woman who has earned her spurs, boxing her way through life, was made to feel violated," Kom wrote.
She narrated the first incident when she was made to feel ashamed. "I was on my way to my training camp at 8.30 in the morning in a cycle rickshaw when a stranger suddenly lunged at me and stroked my breast. I was angry, very angry. I leapt off the rickshaw and chased him, holding my slipper in my hand, but he managed to escape. My regret is that I could not catch him or the karate that I had already learnt by then, would have come in handy".
Explaining further about the society we live in and the way some men behave, Kom added, "We women have scaled heights and stormed male bastions but for some men, we are still all about our bodies. Some parts of our bodies are different and that's the only thing that sets us apart. We don't deserve our breasts to be touched or our bums patted. That's what happened to my friends and me in Delhi and Hissar, while we were taking a walk outside our training camps.
I have never understood what pleasure men get when they touch us against our will. As you grow up, I want you to know, that molestation and rapes are crimes that deserve the strictest punishment. If you ever happen to see a young girl being teased, I urge you to reach out and help. The saddest part is that we are becoming uncaring as a society. A young girl in India's capital was stabbed multiple times and though there were many who could have come to her aid, none did.
I am blessed now to be in the august house of the Rajya Sabha and I will do my best to create awareness about sexual crimes against women. It is an opportunity I must seize. I will ask questions about the way some of our politicians speak, about the attitude of the police whose sole duty it is apply the law.
But sexual crimes are also steeped in our mindsets and I would fail in my duty as a mother, if I did not tell you - all great sons of this country - that we alone have rights to our bodies. Respect women when they say 'No'. Don't stalk them to death because they have said 'No'. Rape is not about sex; it is only about a misplaced sense of power and revenge.
I know I can beat a molester to pulp and that might help me fight the deep sense of being defiled but why should it even come to that? Desire is beautiful when it is reciprocal". "Let's build a society where girls can be safe, secure and respected," Mary Kom concluded.