Actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, the first male UN Women Ambassador for South Asia, and the force behind the MARD- Men Against Rape and Discrimination Campaign, has written two poems about sexual assault.  He has also written a letter on gender issues to his daughter, as part of the same campaign.

The poems are part of Hindustan Times’ 8 part series ‘Let’s Talk About Rape’ where prominent Indians will write letters discussing the reality of sexual assault in this country.

Photo Credit: The Indian Express
Photo Credit: The Indian Express

One of Akhtar’s poems is addressed to a five-year-old victim in Bangalore and expresses his anguish at the situation.

Here is an excerpt of the poem taken from the Hindustan Times.

I see you little girl

tears in your eyes

bruises on your body

blood on your thighs

I hear you little girl

your whimpers your cries

your silenced protest

your resonating sighs … 

You can read the entire poem here

It ends with: 

I stand with you little girl.

 

The second poem, addressed to a young woman, tries to offer words of hope and solace.

When life breaks you

pick up the pieces

Stick them back together

Smoothen out the creases

Brush off the dirt

Re-apply the colour

Polish the rough edges

Shine up what’s duller

And when you’re done

creating this new person

Just let in some love

To complete your new version.

Be all that you can be

Be fearless my child, Be free

When people get you down

Tell you you’re wrong

You’ve got to believe in yourself

Remember you’re strong …

You can read the entire poem here

 

In the letter to his 16-year-old daughter, Akhtar talks about how women are portrayed in Bollywood and how he needs to be wary of this as a filmmaker.

 “Stalking, unfortunately, has become a mutated form of cinematic romance,” wrote Akhtar.

He also urges his daughter to live her life the way she wants to but to remember to be safe and to have her wits about her. He says that there are certain realities around us, and that we live in an unsafe, unequal world. He expresses his understanding of his daughter’s frustration and her wish to be free in the true sense of the word.

He ends by saying that he will always stand by her daughter as she navigates growing up in the country.