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Sexual crimes: Men must learn to control, says Soha Ali Khan

Apr 08, 2014

The first objective of cinema and television, especially of cinema is entertainment, believes Soha Ali Khan, a popular Bollywood actor.

Soha Ali Khan

Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore and her daughter Soha Ali Khan came together to support the launch of a new sitcom ‘Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon’on India’s national broadcaster Doordarshan. In an interview with OneWorld South Asia, Soha said that the girls must raise their voice against any injustice happening to them. Excerpts from the interview.

OneWorld South Asia: How can television be a medium of social change?

Soha Ali Khan: Television is one medium, through which we can change the thinking of people. But, we can’t put all the responsibilities to newspapers, magazines or televisions. We have to learn values and culture from teachers and parents. Television is one way to influence people, it is an important way but it is not the only way. You have to create your own network then only people will take you seriously.

OWSA: How can women centric TV programmes or films change the scenario for the good of women in India?

Soha: The first objective of cinema and television, especially of cinema is entertainment. Cinema is for entertainment and not for learning. If you are going to cinema to learn, it’s foolish. Schools and universities are for education, cinema is for entertainment.

However, there are certain TV serials which disseminate some message directly to the living rooms. TV serials are primarily women oriented programmes. In the mornings, TV is mostly watched by women.

OWSA: It has become fashionable to oppose traditional values for women empowerment. Do you think women empowerment can only happen by opposing the traditional values?

Soha: Firstly, there is no agreement on what we refer to as traditional values in this country. Things like traditional and modern definitions have been thrown around and the so called modernity has been associated with copying the West.

Today’s girl sometimes wears modern dresses, while at other times she wears salwar-kameez.  There is no conflict between traditional values and going out as today’s girl can manage both. I work in my life, but I think, I am a very traditional person. There is no conflict at all.

It’s a wrong perception that if a woman is working somewhere she is neglecting her children. Society is changing and with it men too are changing. Therefore, change is important.

OWSA: How can men play an important role in providing women their just place in this world?

Soha: We should engage everyone in family not just women. Weather we like it or not, there are certain elements of patriarchy in India.

People here listen to men. When popular faces like Aamir Khan or Farhan Akhtar associate themselves with a cause, they get the due attention. So, we have to involve our brothers. It’s a comprehensive task which cannot be achieved without father or brother. Even my brother Saif (Ali Khan) will support this initiative.

OWSA: How would this serial MKBKSH boost the confidence of women?

Soha: To see a role model of Dr Sneha played by Minal Vaishnav, I think will boost women’s confidence.  When girls or women will watch it, they will understand the message with a different portrayal of a woman.

Dr Sneha is a working woman, one who is in a relationship, one who is helping her family, one who stands up for certain causes, one who helps her sister, one who stands up for illegal abortions, for young marriages and for women’s health. When you see someone who raises a voice, I think it gives you strength to raise your own voice.

OWSA: Have issues related to career aspirations of a woman complicated her life?

Soha: No, I don’t think so. Women are incredible people. Women are multi-taskers. All the women I know in my life are able to handle multiple things at one time.

She can handle a family, a job, driving and cooking too. You will be amazed by how much a woman can do. If she can go through child birth, she can do anything. Change will happen when everybody participates. It requires lot of efforts and also regular support from media and public.

OWSA: Some people say that sexual crimes against women are due to their dressing sense. What do you think?

Soha: I think those people are idiots who think that a woman's clothing is responsible for the sexual crimes of men. I think it is every woman’s right to choose what to wear and a man must learn to control himself and his violence against women. There is no excuse for it. But the onus is on men to put an end to sexual violence.

OWSA: What message would you like to give to young girls?

Soha: Girls should use their voice. They have a right to raise their voice, if they feel any injustice is happening to them.

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