During a press conference (about her recent stint on “The Bachelorette India”), a female journalist from India accused Bollywood star Mallika Sherawat of giving India a bad name abroad because of her previous statements on the topic on the state of women in India to worldwide press in other interviews. The journalist says that Mallika had given an interview at Cannes saying that “India is regressive and depressing.”
Not one to let her statements be used against her, Sherawat fired back, clarifying what she had previously said and then this:
“Indian society is regressive for women.”
“With female feticide, infanticide happening on an almost daily basis; with gang rapes making the headlines of almost every newspaper; with honor killings…”
“I think it’s a very, very regressive state for women.”
“And I stand by it!”
“As a woman, I should lie about the state of women that’s in our country? So I didn’t lie. I said the truth.”
The original interview of Sherawat was actually done a few months ago (before “The Bachelorette India” had even come out), and evidently drew some “internet trolling” in India at the time because of her “fake accent,” but has gone viral worldwide this past week.
Whereas the video was “NBD” when it first came out, part of the reason this video has gone viral now is because of the brewing debate on feminism in India that is happening in the light of a major rape case against news organization Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal. Tejpal stepped down for six months from his organization after a female colleague accused him of sexually assaulting her. This case is receiving much public scrutiny because Tehelka has been on the forefront of urging Indian society to confront sexual violence with its coverage. However, as Tejpal’s rape case began to receive attention:
[T]he magazine’s managing editor, Shoma Chaudhury, sent an announcement to her staff that “there has been an untoward incident” and that Mr. Tejpal had apologized and would “recuse himself” for six months. A remorseful letter from Mr. Tejpal, which was leaked to other publications, described “a bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation.”
An account in an email posted on a social media site shortly afterward, evidently written by the victim, described two episodes of assault that took place when she was cornered in a hotel elevator.
Many journalists and activists fumed over Ms. Chaudhury’s treatment of the episode as an internal matter, especially because the magazine, Tehelka, has pushed for Indian society to confront hidden cases of sexual violence. [full story from the New York Times]
After attacks from all directions, Chaudhury resigned from the paper, drawing further ire for “not really being a feminist” when push came to shove. In contrast, Sherawat is being championed as a feminist for standing up and speaking out about women’s issue, leading to various editorials comparing the two.