Actor Richa Chadha said that India cannot be a superpower until it respects its women and balances skewed gender ratio like China.
New Delhi: India cannot become a world superpower if half the population continues to feel attacked, actor Richa Chadha said Saturday.
Speaking about the horrific Kathua rape-murder case, Chadha said it was the film fraternity in India who spoke up before politicians.
“It was Bollywood actors and actresses who launched a social media campaign against the rape in Kathua, which pressurised the Prime Minister to speak. So this time we spoke up even before your own elected representatives,” she said.
Chadha was in conversation with associate editor of ThePrint Ruhi Tewari during the fifth edition of Democracy Wall at BITS Pilani, Hyderabad.
She added that it was surprising that people put the onus on Bollywood to comment especially when the Prime Minister took two days to speak up.
“Why is his silence accepted more than someone who goes to social media to make a statement?” she asked the students.
Democracy Wall is a monthly free speech campus initiative organised by ThePrint in collaboration with Facebook. The fifth event at BITS Pilani, Hyderabad, featured Chadha, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, Dr Prameela Baral, Constitution expert Meghnad and comedian Rajasekhar Mamidanna.
India needs to stop blaming victims
Chadha spoke extensively about the societal hypocrisy when it comes to treating women.“We need to change the way we look at rape, because it’s the rapists that should be excommunicated, and lose their livelihoods,” she said.
“When we open our papers and read that a member of the ruling party was the rapist, when we see on the news that the rapists in Kathua are actually being defended, do you think this will encourage women to speak up?” she asked.
The Bollywood actor, known for her outspoken activism when it comes to empowering women, also added that India really needed to change its victim-blaming mindset.
“If I’m wearing a dress and walking on the road, then there will be some dumb minister who will say “ladki good hai toh cheeti nahi kategi. (if the girl is good, the ant won’t bite),” she said.
As far as Bollywood’s ‘responsibility’ to shape society is considered, Chadha said that cinema is only a mirror to society.
“We should also remember that cinema is a microcosm of society. If society is sexist and stupid, then the film industry will also be,” she said.
What India can change
Chadha said that along with a change in the mindset, the only way India can attain the growth China has, is if they acknowledge and work towards correcting their skewed gender ratio.
“One of the main reasons they (China) have given for their fast growth is that they’ve moved toward a 60-40 or a 50-50 ratio between men and women,” she said.
The actor believes that women are essential in positions of power because their instinct is not towards violence. However, the opportunity should not be given blindly without qualification. “There are lots of women in the government like that,” she said.