Mary Kom reveals she was molested at 17 in an open letter to her sons
Boxer Mary Kom has a special place in Indian sports. Along with having several accolades to her name, Mary Kom is also a cult figure for women in this country, especially those who pursue a career in sports. However, in spite of bringing honor to her country, she was not spared from society's biggest bane. She herself admitted that she had been a subject of molestation, something that every woman in India faces in her life.
The Olympic bronze medallist penned an open letter addressed to her three sons for Hindustan Times' social campaign #LetsTalkAboutRape. Kom does not waste time as she starts off directly about rape and the harassment she faced.
Here are some excerpts from the letter that was published in the Hindustan Times:
“Let’s talk about rape. Let’s talk about sexual crimes against women. Every single day, women are being stalked, molested and raped. You, my boys, are only nine-years-old – and the youngest only three – but this is the age where we must sensitize ourselves to how we treat our women.”
“Let me start by telling you that your mother was molested, first in Manipur and then again while she was out with her girlfriends in Delhi and Haryana’s Hissar. I know it is shocking to learn that even a woman who has earned her spurs, boxing her way through life, was made to feel violated.”
When she was 17 years old, Kom was on her way to her training camp. An unknown assailant lunged at her suddenly and groped her and then fled away.
“I was on my way to my training camp at 8.30 in the morning in a cycle rickshaw when a stranger suddenly lunged at me and stroked my breast. I was angry, very angry. I leaped off the rickshaw and chased him, holding my slipper in my hand, but he managed to escape. My regret is that I could not catch him or the karate that I had already learned by then, would have come in handy.”
She also addressed gender-roles and wrote about how her husband gives her strength to go about her day.
“I have the utmost respect for your father who now dedicates his time for me and for you all. You will soon hear the words “house husband” but remember that’s not a slur; neither is it derogatory. He’s my strength, my partner, who walks with me through every step I take.”
The boxer who has won an Asian Games gold medal and six World Amateur Boxing Championships was vociferous about the racial discrimination faced by the people from North Eastern India.
“There are other words that you will hear soon. You might be walking with me one of these days to hear your mother being called a ‘chinky’. That is a slur. That is racist. I am Indian and I know you are growing up to be proud Indians. We belong to a state that is in the grip of an insurgency."
"A lot of women from our State are targeted for the way they look and the way they dress. ‘Chinkies’ are not fair game. My country has given me fame and recognition but I am not recognized by each person on the road – as an MS Dhoni or a Virat Kohli will most certainly be – but I do not deserve to be called ‘chinky’.”
Mary Kom is, however, hopeful of dissolving the social agenda by creating awareness about sexual harassment against women.
“I know I can beat a molester to pulp and that might help me fight the deep sense of being defiled but why should it even come to that? Desire is beautiful when it is reciprocal. We have often heard the explanation of ‘boys will be boys’. Let’s build a society where girls can be safe, secure and respected.”