Five amazing women, five inspiring stories. For our New Year issue, we decided to get together the strongest (and coolest) women we know, to share their struggles. For these women, 2015 was about facing their fears. Take Sapna Bhavnani for example. In case you missed it (if you did, shame on you), last year, Sapna revealed to the whole world that she was gang-raped when she was 24. So, we decided to catch up with the bad*ss feminist and get talking about her story. The full story.
"2015 Was the Year That I Spoke Out"
On July 8, 2015, Sapna Bhavnani told the world that she was gang-raped in Chicago, when she was only 24—through a blog post. "It was very strange. Because I got a call from Karishma of Humans of Bombay and she said that she wanted to meet with me. I didn't know what it was about, but when I met her, she told me that she wanted me to tell her my story. I was just shocked."
For Sapna, who was part of the acclaimed play, Nirbhaya (based on the Delhi gang rape of December 2012) it wasn't easy. "When I was about to do the play, my family had no idea about my story. I remember I was about to take the stage in London and I called my mother and told her 'You should know this before the world does'. And she was shocked! But my friends and family have been really supportive," she says. "It's really difficult to recount the story over and over again. And they had no therapy sessions during the play. So I would go on stage, tell my story, and then go shopping afterwards, to make myself feel better. I finally realised this wasn't working for me," says Sapna, who ultimately dealt with her issues through yoga.
Probably one of the few unapologetic feminists we have, Sapna has big plans for the coming year. "I'm building a healing centre and we're going to have different workshops on photography, cooking, gardening—whatever helps in the healing process. I'm also teaching women who were sex workers how to cut hair. The goal is to have salons around the country, where these women can rebuild their lives."
Photograph: Sahil Behal; Styling: Zunaili Malik