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Farhan Akhtar’s campaign against rape and discrimination

Farhan Akhtar’s campaign against ‘rape and discrimination’ of women was prompted by his employee’s assault and rape

Farhan Akhtar has a lot on his mind. And it is not just his ongoing film with Vidya Balan or the upcoming Milkha Singh biopic. The actor-filmmaker recently initiated MARD – Men Against Rape and Discrimination – a campaign that stormed social networking with hard-hitting slogans.

On the set of Shaadi Ke Side Effects Farhan says he intends to take the fight to schools and colleges, “to drive home the message that women need to be respected.” He believes he has better chances of being heard because of being a public figure. “I want to see an end to crimes against women. And this can only happen if we reform the the young and impressionable minds,” he says.

The idea was born in August last year when Akhtar’s employee 25-year-old Pallavi Purkayastha, a lawyer by profession, was sexually assaulted and murdered by her watchman at home. Pallavi handled the legal accounts of Farhan and Ritesh Sidhwani’s company. “The horrifying gang rape in Delhi and the sexual harassment incident in Assam just strengthened my resolve,” he explains.

Farhan disapproves of the callousness on the part of government officials who make it seem as though women are “responsible for the inhumane treatment meted out to them.” He says: “The focus is on strength, ambition and physicality in the male sex. Not on sensitivity. Hence the attitude: If I am a man, I need to be aggressive,” he says adding, “Men forget that they need compassion to justify their manhood.”

Farhan adds, “We hear about sexual crimes, there is an upsurge of emotions, and then we forget about them. A bicep of 18 inches doesn’t make you a man.”

Farhan’s initiative has received a thumbs up from SRK, Priyanka, Arjun Rampal, Hrithik, Shahid Kapoor and Vidya Balan.


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