Tuesday December 11, 2018

Mallika Sherawat Wants To Be The Voice Of Women Who Don’t Have One

She wants to inspire women across the country through her story on facing her stalker in ZEE5's anthology series

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Mallika is also supporting a plant-based nutritional tour in medical schools across India. The first part started in Bhopal on July 26 and went on till August 7.
Mallika is also supporting a plant-based nutritional tour in medical schools across India. The first part started in Bhopal on July 26 and went on till August 7.
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Mallika Sherawat is bold, fearless and outspoken. The actress, who works closely with an organisation that fights against human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children, says she wants to be the voice of women who don’t have one and that activism is important for her.

She was teargassed and beaten up in her Paris apartment in 2016. She also had to deal with a “crazy terrible stalker”.

Does she fear for her life?

“I can’t stop living my life. What’s good if I don’t get to use my voice for the cause that I believe in? I believe in women empowerment and to be the voice for women who don’t have a voice.

“I get mails from Haryana… from women saying, ‘Show us the way’. They want to make something of their life. My activism is very important to me,” Mallika told IANS on the phone from Mumbai.

She wants to inspire women across the country through her story on facing her stalker in ZEE5’s anthology series, “The Story”.

Talking about the episode of the digital project, she said: “It was kind of reliving the nightmare, but it was important for me to speak up about the experience. In India, a lot of people think that the life of a famous person is very simple… but actually, it’s not. We all have our own challenges and problems.

“I had this crazy, terrible stalker. Also, what’s happening in India right now with all these gang rape cases… there is a need to take self-defence seriously.”

Recalling the incident, the “Murder” actress said: “This took place a few years ago in Mumbai. This crazy guy was against the idea of me wearing short skirts. He said ‘You are going against your culture. Women like you should be put behind bars’.

“My clothes were an obsession for him. He just couldn’t believe that a girl from Haryana could wear short skirts and that too on screen. I know that regressive mentality towards women exists, but I didn’t know that it could go this far.

“I think, for him, it was like, ‘I am going to set her right. I am going to teach her the value of wearing a sari’. He even had a gun with him. I talk about women’s rights. He just didn’t want me to speak. He hated what I stood for — independent, modern Indian women. That guy was put behind bars.”

She is positive that the audience, especially women, will relate to it because a “lot of women are facing harassment” at work and at home.

Mallika sherawat visits twitter HQ
Mallika sherawat visits twitter HQ. Pixabay

“I have faced harassment. It is a very common thing with women,” she said.

Mallika has also got the rights to adapt “The Good Wife”, an American legal and political drama TV series, for Indian audiences.

“Again, it is a women’s empowerment show. By the end of this year, we will start shooting for it. I will play the central character,” she said.

“It will be shot in India in Hindi. I am really excited to share it with the Indian audience. I think the time is right,” added the actress, who featured in the American show “Hawaii Five-0”.

Mallika has made frequent appearances on the Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet. She has also featured in Chinese films like “Time Raiders” and “The Myth”.

She feels proud that the audience abroad “absolutely loves Bollywood”.

Also read: Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

“Bollywood is really making its presence felt abroad. A lot of Indian actors are working abroad. They love musicals of Bollywood as they are so unique. Now, realistic cinema is also coming from Bollywood. They help to form a good image for Bollywood.” (IANS)

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Women Hit Especially Hard In Congo’s Worst Ebola Outbreak

For the afflicted, the road to recovery is long and lonely.

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Ebola, WHO, UNICEF, congo, Uganda, women
Congolese health workers register people and take their temperatures before they are vaccinated against Ebola in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the throes of its worst-ever Ebola outbreak, with more than 420 cases in the country’s volatile east, and a mortality rate of just under 60 percent. But this outbreak — the nation’s tenth known Ebola epidemic — is unusual because more than 60 percent of patients are women.

Among them is Baby Benedicte. Her short life has already been unimaginably difficult.

At one month old, she is underweight, at 2.9 kilograms. And she is alone. Her mother had Ebola, and died giving birth to her. She’s spent the last three weeks of her life in a plastic isolation cube, cut off from most human contact. She developed a fever at eight days old and was transferred to this hospital in Beni, a town of some half-million people in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 400 people have been diagnosed with Ebola here since the beginning of August, and more than half of them have died in a nation the size of Western Europe that struggles with insecurity and a lack of the most basic infrastructure and services. That makes this the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history, after the hemorrhagic fever killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2013 and 2016.

This is 10th outbreak to strike the vast country since 1976, when Ebola was first identified in Congo. And this particular outbreak is further complicated by a simmering civil conflict that has plagued this region for more than two decades.

Guido Cornale, UNICEF’s coordinator in the region, says the scope of this outbreak is clear.

“It has become the worst outbreak in Congo, this is not a mystery,” he said.

What is mysterious, however, is the demographics of this outbreak. This time, more than 60 percent of cases are women, says the government’s regional health coordinator, Ndjoloko Tambwe Bathe.

“All the analyses show that this epidemic is feminized. Figures like this are alarming. It’s true that the female cases are more numerous than the male cases,” he said.

Congo, Uganda, ebola, Women
Health workers walk with a boy suspected of having been infected with the Ebola virus, at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, near Congo’s border with Uganda. VOA

Bathe declined to predict when the outbreak might end, though international officials have said it may last another six months. Epidemiologists are still studying why this epidemic is so skewed toward women and children, Cornale said.

“So now we can only guess. And one of the guesses is that woman are the caretakers of sick people at home. So if a family member got sick, who is taking care of him or her? Normally, a woman,” he said.

Or a nurse. Many of those affected are health workers, who are on the front line of battling this epidemic. Nurse Guilaine Mulindwa Masika, spent 16 days in care after a patient transmitted the virus to her. She says it was the fight of her life.

“The pain was enormous, the pain was constant,” she said. “The headache, the diarrhea, the vomiting, and the weakness — it was very, very bad.”

Congo, Ebola, Women
Marie-Roseline Darnycka Belizaire, World Health Organization (WHO) Epidemiology Team Lead, talks to women as part of Ebola contact tracing, in Mangina, Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

For the afflicted, the road to recovery is long and lonely. Masika and her cured colleagues face weeks of leave from work to ensure the risk of infection is gone. In the main hospital in the city of Beni, families who have recovered live together in a large white tent, kept four meters from human contact by a bright orange plastic cordon. They yell hello at their caretakers, who must don protective gear if they want to get any closer.

And for Baby Benedicte, who is tended to constantly by a nurse covered head to toe in protective gear, the future is uncertain. Medical workers aren’t entirely sure where her father is, or if he is going to come for her.

Also Read: Congo Start Trials For Drugs Against Ebola

She sleeps most of the day, the nurse says, untroubled by the goings-on around her. Meanwhile, the death toll rises. (VOA)