Sakshi Malik

2 minute read
By Nisha Pahuja

In early 2023, a handful of India’s most celebrated wrestlers gathered at Jantar Mantar—a popular protest site in Delhi. Notable among them was 31-year-old Sakshi Malik, India’s first and only female wrestler to win an Olympic medal. The group gathered to demand the immediate arrest and resignation of Brij Bhushan Singh, a powerful ruling party Member of Parliament and chief of the Wrestling Federation of India, accused of sexually harassing female athletes.

What began as a small, targeted protest to demand decisive government action in favor of the wrestlers ballooned instead into a yearlong battle unprecedented in Indian sport, drawing support from across the country and attention from across the world. After the wrestlers’ protests, Singh was charged with sexual harassment, stalking, and intimidation, charges he has denied. 

“This fight is no longer only for India’s female wrestlers,” said Malik of the movement she helped spark, “it is for the daughters of India whose voices have been silenced time and again.” 

Shortly after Singh’s successor, a close ally and business partner, was elected to oversee the Wrestling Federation of India, Sakshi Malik—in an emotional, public, and very brave act of defiance—quit the sport. She did not, however, quit the battle. Her light, and the light of all those standing against harassment, continues to shine.

Pahuja is an Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker

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