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Wed Nov 26 14:41:36 SAST 2014

Ravi Shankar's daughter Anoushka says she was sexually abused

Sapa-AFP | 14 February, 2013 14:01
Anoushka Shankar accepts the award on behalf of the late Ravi Shankar for World Music Album for his work in "The Living Room Sessions Part 1" at the 55th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 10, 2013.
Image by: MIKE BLAKE / REUTERS

The daughter of legendary Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar said Thursday in a video released for a global women's rights campaign that she had been sexually abused as a child by a family friend.

Anoushka Shankar, herself a famed sitar player who used to play with her late father, said she had decided to go public in support of the One Billion Rising campaign against violence against women.

She dedicated her message to an Indian medical student who was gang-raped in a bus by six drunken men on December 16 in New Delhi, and later died in hospital from horrific injuries.

The crime sparked violent protests and a round of soul-searching in India about the treatment of women.

"As child, I suffered sexual and emotional abuse for several years in the hands of a man my parents trusted implicitly," Shankar said in the message posted on YouTube from her home in London.

"Growing up like most women I know I suffered various forms of groping, touching, verbal abuse and other things like I didn't know how to deal with, I didn't know I could change," Shankar said.

"Enough is enough. I am rising. I am rising for... and women like her. I am rising with the women of my country," the US-born musician said.

Events marking the One Billion Rising campaign, timed to coincide with Saint Valentine's Day, are planned across the Indian capital on Thursday, said Kamla Bhasin, a prominent women's activist leading the campaign in South Asia.

"From 10 am (0430 GMT) onwards our programmes have started in colleges and I am going with women taxi drivers to spread the word of equality because today's is the day of love," Bhasin told AFP.

She said activists would sing, stage street plays, light candles and shout anti-violence slogans.

In Mumbai the events include a flash dance, a seaside "open drum circle" at sunset, demonstrations of solidarity and a protest against atrocities against women.

Delhi police have charged five of the suspects with rape and murder. The sixth is a minor and is being tried in a juvenile court.

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