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Sania rues gender discrimination in sports

Mumbai, (IANS): Decrying the widespread gender discrimination in society at large, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza rued the fact that the world of sports is also not immune from the malaise and she has to fight for equal prize money despite being a former World No.1 in women’s doubles.

“Gender violence doesn’t lie in extremities. Rather it happens everywhere in the world. At the World Tennis Association (WTA), we have to fight for equal prize money even today. When I won Wimbledon in 2015 and came back to India, I was asked when was I planning to have kids and settle down since I had been married for five years,” Sania said in a statement on Friday.

“I wasn’t considered settled or complete in my life after being a World Champion. That was the most extreme form of discrimination for me,” she added.

Sharing her journey and her parents support, Sania said, “I was never told by my parents that I might not be able to do something because I’m a girl and that I won’t be able to follow my dreams.”

Sania and her father Imran Mirza have released a video in a bid to increase public awareness about the subject.

The video is a joint initiative by Population Foundation Of India (PFI) and noted director Farhan Akhtar’s initiative MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination), as part of their campaign to end violence against women and girls titled ‘Bas Ab Bahut Ho Gaya – Enough is Enough!’.

“My wife and I have never felt the pressure or need to have a son in the 30 years of our marriage. The thought that our daughters were anything less or we should have had a son instead never crossed our minds,” Sania’s father said in the video which has been directed by Feroz Abbas Khan.

Farhan said the lack of understanding of the concept of equality in society leads to gender discrimination.

“Gender-based violence is an evil rooted at a much deeper level in our psyche than we think. It is beyond us being men and women. Our inability to understand the concept of equality irrespective of one’s gender leads to such kind of discriminations,” he said.

“It’s high time that we take up the responsibility to bring about a change so that our daughters get to live in a better society tomorrow.”

Many celebrities have joined this campaign to relay messages that motivate young girls to stand up against violence, and show boys that masculinity is not connected with violence.

Apart from the films, there will be several activities including panel discussions, a film-making contest, and a series of films about violence against women.

The campaign will culminate in a concert in Mumbai.