Nirbhaya: A Fearless Play on Sexual Violence

I remember watching “Kill Bill” with my father in our relative’s flat in Chennai once. I still remember that scene in the movie, where Uma Thurman is put into a coffin, and busts herself out of it. I remember him telling me, “In life, people are going to try to put you in that coffin- in that small narrow space, but you must fight your way out of it. You owe it to yourself to try- no matter how much it pains you to do so. Fight against the pain and injustice.”

Growing up in Bombay, I had internalised silence in the midst of chaos. India is an assault every day; an overwhelming feeling more than a nation. She is an assault of colour, smells and sounds. She is a constant barrage of insults wrapped in the soft scent of monsoon rain. She hugs you, pushes you to the ground and pulls you right back up. So it was normal for me to have my morning chai, read the headlines, and go about being desensitised to the life around me. I needed to remain aloof for my own survival, or so I thought.

On December 16 2012, a young girl died in a brutal gang rape in New Delhi. On that fateful day, my morning chai didn’t taste the same. Its sweet ginger and cardamom mix had been replaced by something bitter, something livid. I was angry; something within me had snapped. I was also extremely guilty. This girl whose name I didn’t even know had become a sister to me; a friend in a flash of a minute. She was no longer faceless, she was fearless. I was guilt-ridden because my silence was one of many catalysts that led to the events of that night. By remaining apathetic and silent, I had begun to collude with malice. I was part of the problem, but I was ready to become part of the solution.

I am glad to say that I am not the only one. Nirbhaya, Yael Farber’s fearless masterpiece, has triggered a movement. The women of the play address their experiences with unflinching honesty, rather than shame. They are warriors and survivors, not victims. Their honour hasn’t been taken from them; it is not their cross to bear.

The cast and direction is powerful and moving, and I believe that every young woman today should definitely watch it and be a part of the movement. The play is being hosted at the Southbank WOW Festival and there are tickets available so go watch it!

There is also an installation by Action Aid available on site, and I urge all of you to definitely become a part of it and help Action Aid.

Follow Nirbhaya on Facebook and Twitter