This is a exclusive article written by Priyanka Chopra herself reflecting on safety of women in Mumbai.
As I drove through a 'just waking up' Mumbai, it suddenly came alive with frenetic activity... it was Independence Day and there was so much happening — from flag hoisting in every society to plays and varied renditions of the national anthem put together by excited little kids.
This is Mumbai... the city that defines independence... the city where the promise of that independence has spawned a million dreams... the city that warmly embraces every dream and every aspiration. Many years ago, I was also one of the countless people that came to this city with my aspirations in one hand and a bagful of fears in the other... this was Mumbai after all. I still remember the day I stepped into the city, my mum in tow for the first few days and then left to my own devices in this big, energetic city.
I started off as a "paying guest", the popular starting off point for every new entrant into the city. Instantly, the city and the people made me feel at ease, giving me the freedom as a young girl, all of 17, to chase my dreams. There was nothing that I couldn't do.
I never felt scared taking a taxi at 4 am or going out alone or even living alone. The city was that enveloping.Therefore, it was a shock when I read about the dastardly incident with Pallavi Purkayastha. It brought to light so suddenly something that I think we all felt but chose to ignore... women, especially young, independent women, are still so vulnerable in our society. Reading about her murder in detail left me shaken. It was pre-meditated... driven by lust... ending in the gruesome death of a young, independent, hard working girl, who had so much going for her.
The magnitude of this crime can perhaps only truly be understood by a woman. It has much larger ramifications. Today, in the blink of an eye, every woman in Mumbai no longer feels safe. I know this because, like me, every other woman I know feels this way. We feel robbed, suddenly, of our freedom; which was almost like a rite of passage of sorts... in our quest to become strong, independent women of the world. Today, this single incident will not only have a direct, deterring impact on the girls who dream of living an independent life, but also on their parents who allowed them to. Mumbai was a beacon of hope and change and now that light has suddenly dimmed.
We can't allow this to happen. We have to, in whichever way we can, ensure that what happened with Pallavi does not happen again. She fought till her last breath and we have to in some way bring meaning to her tragic death. Something needs to be done... the government needs to step in, law enforcement needs to step up, housing societies need to weigh in and most importantly, we - all women across the country - need to reflect on this incident, learn from it and then move forward in a constructive manner, finding ways to protect ourselves, not just individually but as a community.
We need to remind ourselves that we women today are a vital contributor to the growth of the new India. True strength comes from the ability and the confidence of young independent girls like ourselves. Let's not dent it.