“The first time I got molested was when I was 10 years old. It was by this girl, she told me we were playing games and did some sort of role play thing. She told me that she is the husband and I am the wife and so she gets to do what she wants to and she hurt me. The next time I was molested was by a friend of my father’s. In the name of teaching me how to ride a scooter, he touched my thighs.  The next time was when I was in a relationship with this person and I was 15 years old. I did give him the permission to kiss me but a few weeks later, we met and he forced me to have oral sex with him and I did not want to. I remember saying no. The next time, it led to sexual assault. Right now, I’m at a space beyond it and I’ve healed more than I ever thought I could. ”

How did The Circle happen?

 “I was in the final year of my journalism course, when a friend and classmate of mine came up to me saying, ‘Listen, I am tired of listening to all the news about rape, harassment etc. It just doesn’t seem to stop.’ We wanted to understand where the problem lay, and why it was happening. So, we decided to sit together with two other like-minded friends and talk about it. That is when we opened up to each other and we figured that all of us had gone through something similar. It was scary. I initially broke down because it was not something I had discussed with anyone in my life. Eventually we felt relieved to have had each other and that’s what we wanted to give more people- a community. The first step to healing is getting it out of your system.”

“Patriarchy is a system that runs through the socialization processes through family and friends we initially come in contact with. This is where we learn to be masculine and feminine in the way that is appropriate in order for the system to work.  When a practice is followed over and over again, people find logical explanations to explain why they do it.

What do you have to say when we talk about nationalism and women’s empowerment?

“I understand that our nation is trying to bring out a change with regards to equality among men and women, but it’s a very weird position that we are in. We want to give equal rights, but we can’t give too much because people fear what was in their control will now be lost to them. Female sexuality has sadly been an item with male control and for the male gaze. We want women to go out but hostels have a 5 PM or a 7 PM curfew. They have to be equal but also they are expected to dress a certain way and yet a lot of us tend to create these ideas and norms in the name of tradition and culture.”

“Everything that has happened with me has led to the kind of a person I am right now. I wish it didn’t happen, but I also believe that it happened for a reason, even though it’s a bad thing. Right now, I am doing my masters in Sociology and I will hopefully spend my life doing something I think is worthwhile. The Circle is a support group we founded through that small talk we had in my final year. It is a support group that focuses its efforts on understanding and creatively solving issues related to violence and mental health. Somewhere, I think this is my small addition to the world.”