MUMBAI: Three brave Navi Mumbai based women who are fighting for animal rights against all odds, were among those honoured with Women Achievers Awards at Powai on the eve of International Women's Day on Thursday.
The three activists - Aditi Lahiri, Roshni Majumdar and Rinki Banerji - were awarded for their animal welfare work in Navi Mumbai at the function organised by Young Environmentalists Programme Trust.
Lahiri has been helping stray animals in the satellite city for over 10 years despite suffering from cancer, while Majumdar is a young MBA student who was beaten up and molested by local goons in Sanpada for feeding an injured stray dog last year.
Rinki Banerji was recently assaulted by a mob of animal-haters in New Panvel where she had gone to protect the stray dogs.
Some of the other awardees at the event were theatre personality Dolly Thakore, actor and TV host Sophia Hayat, activist Abha Singh, disabled yet successful working woman Preeti Sagotra, author Kiran Manral, classical musician Sunita Bhuyan, lawyer Rita Abraham, social service person Dr Mithu Alur and Miss Universe contestant Shilpa Singh among others.
Talking to TOI, Majumdar said: "In June last year, six youngsters had attacked me and my cousin in Sanpada just because I used to feed a disabled stray dog. I got these goons arrested, but unfortunately, a false police complaint was also lodged against my cousin to harass us further."
Organiser Elsie Gabriel of YEPT added: "Along with Mazumdar, even Banerji is very brave to fight back an angry mob in New Panvel for the rights of animals. Hats off to all the three ladies."
In all, 23 women from different social spheres and activities were honoured at Rodas ecotel in Powai.
"It is tough to fight for stray dogs and cats, as many housing societies are openly hostile towards animals, and even poison them to death. We need proper animal centres to do effective sterilisations of the strays. However, compassion must be shown by all individuals towards the mute animals," added Lahiri.
Uncle had sexually abused me: Sophia Hayat
The glamorous actress and TV show host, Sophia Hayat, revealed her dark and disturbing past about child sex abuse. When I was only 10, my uncle had sexually abused me. I want to tell everyone that behind this glamour doll image of mine lurks a disturbed childhood,'' said Sophia at the function in Powai.
She later told TOI, Through my story, I want to reach out to all the young girls who may be in a similar situation; in order to help them fight back against such horrid sex pests and assaulters.''
Sophia also mentioned that this childhood incident of hers did affect her in many ways, but now she is happy to have come out of it in a positive way to contribute to the society, especially other minor girls, who can also be in a vulnerable situation.
Daniel Chatterton of Green-team Rodas, commented: It is wonderful to welcome achievers who inspire. By sharing their success more women will reach for the stars." The theme of the event was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy: 'Be the change that you would like to see'.