Actors on domestic violence: Popular television actor Shweta Tiwari in a recent Instagram video outlined the adversities that come with violent marriages and why women must speak up against them without fear. Tiwari, who has notably admitted to having been through two abusive marriages, directed her message to all women including her daughter Palak.
Domestic violence and marital abuse are still threatening realities in India. As per the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, out of a total 4.05 lakh crimes against women in 2019, 1.26 lakh were that of domestic violence. Not all women register cases, not all women speak up because their social surroundings may not allow them. But several do, including celebrities who, despite the unfortunate risk of losing status by standing up to abuse, chose to walk out of those relationships.
Here are some female actors on domestic violence and the stories they shared:
1. Shweta Tiwari
Shweta Tiwari has been married and divorced twice, citing marital abuse in both cases. Her first marriage to Raja Chaudhary in 1998 ended in 2007, with Tiwari saying he used to get drunk and get physically violent with her at home and sometimes even on her shooting sets. She then married and separated from Abhinav Kohli, whom she claimed used to get verbally abusive. Tiwari has two children, a daughter from her first marriage and son from the second.
In her latest Instagram video, she urges Palak and everyone listening, “Don’t carry on silently when you are undergoing domestic abuse. Speak up, at least for your daughter’s sake, so that she doesn’t learn to remain silent when, God forbid, her life’s ship hits the rocks.”
2. Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut, who has, of late, been increasingly vocal about the way she was treated by the film industry in her early career, has also previously revealed gruesome details of her infamous relationship with actor Aditya Pancholi. Pancholi, in the duration of his marriage to Zarina Wahab, had dated Ranaut during the 2000s.
In 2007, she reportedly filed a case of assault against Pancholi and began opening up in interviews in 2017 on the domestic violence she was subjected to when with him. “When this man who used to be my father’s age, he hit me so hard… I fell on my head on the floor and it started to bleed. I must have been 17 or something. I picked up my sandal and I hit his head hard and it started to bleed as well,” she was quoted saying. She even went on record to say Wahab didn’t come to her help when she asked for it.
3. Preity Zinta
Preity Zinta, an audience favourite at the peak of her acting career, sent shockwaves when she revealed details of abuse in her relationship with businessman Ness Wadia. The two, who co-own IPL team Kings XI Punjab, dayed between 2005 and 2009. Five years after their high-profile relationship ended, Zinta filed a police complaint alleging Wadia had molested and abused her during an IPL match at Wankhede Stadium.
“During that time he tried to abuse me and used extremely derogatory language and tried to behave in a manner where I was put to shame in front of my colleagues, friends and family,” she revealed in an interview. “I say that Ness Wadia has gone to the extent of threatening me with dire consequences and intimidating me by boasting of his political clout and connections.”
4. Rashami Desai
Uttaran actor Rashami Desai was married to her co-actor Nandish Sandhu between 2012 and 2015, during which time she claimed he was abusive towards her. When allegations arose against Desai amid high media speculation surrounding her divorce, she opened up saying, “My relationship was always abusive! I’ve not been staying with him for more than 3 years now, and there are so many things I could’ve revealed about him if I wanted to… I’ve never seen things like this happening in my household. Women are never insulted.”
In a later interview, Desai urged women to speak up against abusive relationships, because “if you don’t stop it then and there it will happen again and again. Respect and believe in yourself that you are not doing anything wrong.”
5. Divya Bhatnagar
When television actor Divya Bhatnagar tragically passed away last year from COVID-19, it came to light that she had been in an allegedly abusive relationship with her husband Gaggan Gabru. After her death, her friend and colleague Devoleena Bhattacharjee sought justice for her on claims that the late actor had faced “mental stress and physical abuse” at the hands of Gabru.
In chats released by Bhatnagar’s brother after her death, she was quoted telling a friend that Gabru married her by threatening her. She also alleged that he used to beat her with belts and would often get violent with her over small things. Read more here.