My quest for freedom – Sapna Moti Bhavnani

sapna“When I was 14, I used to talk to boys; drive motor cycles, smoke cigarettes and people in Bandra would often call me a whore because of those things. I never understood the term back then, but sure if doing all those things made me a whore– I’d take it gladly. After my father’s death, I moved to Chicago where there were so many like me and it gave me the freedom to get inked, experiment with my hair and just be myself. One Christmas Eve in Chicago, I walked out of a bar alone late at night in a short dress and red lipstick. I was 24 and had been drinking, when from a dumpster a group of guys walked up to me and put a gun to my head asking me to give them blow jobs, eventually leading to gang rape. I remember walking home, showering and pushing this incident to the back of my mind for years and never letting it break my spirit – I still wear short dresses and the brightest red on my lips.
In years to come, I got married to my high school sweetheart, faced domestic violence and walked out of the marriage wondering how this could happen to ME, a feminist? It’s because sometimes there are things that are beyond your control. We live in a world where everyone stresses the importance of voicing yourself or walking out of tough situations, but I just want to say this— no one wants to be beaten up, get raped or sell their bodies. It took me 20 years to voice my incident, but for me a woman keeping it all within her because she has no other choice isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a mark of strength and something we need to start respecting.”

About her:

Sapna is a celebrity hairstylist and is also known for her contribution to the field of fashion, writing, photography, entertainment and reality television. In 2004, she opened her first hair salon, called Mad-O-Wot in Mumbai, with a team of five people,but later moved the store to Bandra. In 2011, Sapna started her second salon inSapna has actively endorsed PETA’s cause for humane approach to animals and in July 2011 she acted in and modeled for a short promotional ad film, with the tag line “Cut hair, not frogs”, to send out her message. Sapna set up a production company called Mad-O-Wot Productions in June 2010.In September 2009, Sapna authored a non-fiction self-help book titled Style-O-Wot, targeted to teen girls, in which she gives tips related to fashion, trends and style. Sapna organized an art project called Kalingar at Zenzi in Bandra, Mumbai in June 2011 which was a fusion of hair, fashion and photography, along with designer Masaba Gupta and photographer Joy Dutta. Sapna was part of a play titled NIRBHAYA, which premiered at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world, in August 2013. It won the coveted Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award given to an outstanding Fringe production which raises awareness of human rights. It also won the Scotsman Fringe First and the Herald Angel Award for Outstanding New Play. The play is based on real-life events and gender-based violence.

Sapna created her own fashion line “SoFake: Fashion Line” in collaboration with fashion designer Sukriti Grover. The brand emphasized on classic cuts with strong structured shapes paired with basic colours “black, grey and white. She has played a role in two movies – Pyaar ke side effects and Ugli Aur pagli.

Her story has been published in Humans of Bombay, but when contacted she let us use it.

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