After National Commission for Women Khushbu Sundar, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal now has made a shocking revelation that she was sexually assaulted by her father in her childhood, and that the trauma gave her the strength to fight for the rights of women and children.
Speaking to reporters after the DCW International Women’s Day Awards ceremony in Delhi, Maliwal said she faced abuse till the time she was in Class 4.
“I was sexually assaulted by my father when I was a child. I was very small at that time. My father used to beat me up and I used to hide under the bed to save myself,” she said. “While hiding under the bed, I used to think how I will teach a lesson to such men who abuse women and children, and how I can help women get their rights,” she said.
‘Alcoholic father would dash me against the wall’
Maliwal she her father would often grab her by her braid and throw her against the wall, leading to severe bleeding.
Talking to PTI later, she said that she knows that she will be subjected to trolling after narrating her childhood trauma but added as a public figure, it was her duty to talk about it. “My father was an alcoholic. When heavily drunk, he harassed me on many occasions. The brutal beatings that I have got, it is really, really scary. The fact that I am a strong and vocal voice against crimes against women today a lot of it stems from my own childhood trauma…if channelled in the right direction, the pain, the anger and the trauma help you understand other people’s pain better and helps you work for other people,” she said.
Maliwal said her mother, who herself was a victim of domestic violence tried her protect her from her father. She decided to leave him when she couldn’t take it anymore.
“Then there came a day when she (mother) felt that there was absolutely no way out. She couldn’t take it any longer and she separated from my father and that is when my life started improving. I started feeling more secure since we started living with our grandparents. I started feeling more secure but at the same time, it was very traumatic and it still is,” she said.
‘Public figures should share their personal stories’
Maliwal said her mother is a very strong woman and taught her to fight her battles. “I think when you go through that kind of pain you understand what one goes through when one faces such abuse from one’s own parent… It happens with so many people. It’s a mark that I cannot erase forever,” she said.
But what made her speak up at a public forum at this point? “I was feeling very emotional because we gave awards to 90 very inspiring people. Many of them overcame their childhood traumas to really shine and achieve a lot in their lives. I feel people holding positions and those who are public figures should talk about such things. I think these should not be kept hidden. I think I have reached a stage in life where I feel that I have healed to quite an extent, and I do feel comfortable to talk about it. I understand it’s still a very taboo topic and I will be subjected to n number of trolling but despite that I still decided to do it,” she said.
The DCW chief said she wants to give a message to all girls who are being subjected to any form of incest that they must speak up and fight it out. If they are able to struggle, they will be able to come out of it, she asserted. “I am a human being and I have a vulnerable side. I fight for women and girls and that is my passion. I wanted to share with everyone where that passion came from. It’s really unfortunate that everyday an incest case is reported in the national capital. It does make my blood boil,” she added.
Maliwal’s statement comes days after Khushbu said she was sexually abused by her father at the age of 8.
(With inputs from agencies)