Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has caused public uproar after he said shooting his upcoming movie was so gruelling that he felt like a woman who had been raped.
The public fury and social media backlash has been so great Khan’s father, Salim, apologised on his son’s behalf and pleaded with the public to forgive him.
India’s National Commission for Women also demanded that Khan explain his comments within seven days or be hauled before the state-appointed panel.
By last night, Khan had said nothing about the remarks he made while speaking with journalists over the weekend about portraying a professional wrestler in new film Sultan.
“It is the most difficult thing,” the 50-year-old actor told reporters in Mumbai when asked about his training schedule. “When I used to walk out of that ring, it used to be like a raped woman walking out.”
The actor’s rape analogy was widely criticised on social media sites in India, where sexual violence against women is rampant.
A protest movement has emerged in cities with demand for better safety for women and harsher punishment for rapists.
The National Commission for Women’s chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam said: “It’s not only a wrong statement, it’s very irresponsible and callous for a man whose fame and wealth are based on the adoration of his female fans.”
Salim Khan tweeted: “To err is human to forgive divine.” And in another tweet, he said: “Nevertheless I apologise on behalf of his family his fans & his friends. Forgiveness is to pardon the unpardonable or it is no virtue at all.”
The problem of sexual violence has long gone un- recognised in India, until the gang rape and mutilation of a young woman on a moving bus in December 2012. Public protests in New Delhi and other cities prompted the government in 2013 to strengthen laws for punishing those convicted of sexual crimes, as well as for prosecuting authorities who fail to investigate complaints. But strong social stigmas still exist .
Khan’s remark was considered particularly damaging given his immense popularity as a leading star in the Bollywood film industry.
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