On the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, former international athlete Shanthi Soundarajan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to lift the ban imposed on her for failing the gender test.
A part of Thappad’s campaign ‘Justice for Shanthi’, the letter is addressed to ‘elder brother Narendra Modi’ and appeals to him to help her get justice like Dutee Chand, who was also made to go undergo a gender test which she failed. However, Court of Arbitration of Sport overturned the ban imposed on Dutee and allowed her to continue competing.
Here is the text of Shanthi’s letter –
To my elder brother Narendra Modi,
I write to you with great hope today on Raksha Bandhan. The whole country is witnessing 'achche din' gradually thanks to the efforts you are putting in.
It is this change today that has made it possible for our beloved athlete, Dutee Chand to be at the Olympics.
You have ushered in an era of openness, of righteousness, debates and discussions.
It is with this faith that she must have challenged the ban that was put on her just like it was on me, and fortunately, the courts ruled in her favour.
Today on Rakhi, I want to ask you, my brother, why has the nation forgotten me?
10 years of the prime of my life have gone by, running around for answers and justice.
I was told 'I failed' a gender test. I was told I was barred from every participating in sports.
Today the same authorities say they never banned me! If no sport authority in India banned me, then why was I never allowed to run for my country?
I am looking for answers. Why celebrate one sportswoman and discriminate another?
Is it my fault if I was born a certain way?
Once the Olympics get over, I am afraid, another 4 years will pass before any media agency decides to think of me to fill their columns.
I know this may seem as a gimmick to you but believe me, it is not. You gave me hope with your 'Run With Rio' initiative.
Please look into the mail sent by Ponraj Sir (P.A to our beloved late President APJ Kalam).
I look forward to hearing from your office telling me that I am not ignored. Or forgotten. And that justice will be served.
Your aggrieved sister,
Shanthi was diagnosed with hyperandrogenism in 2006, which is characterized by circulation of excessive testosterone in the female body. Upon revelation of this information, Shanthi was deemed unfit to compete with other women and thus, stripped of her sports career.
Thappad, an online debate and discussion platform started a petition asking for Shanthi’s name to be reinstated as the winner of the competitions she won and appeals to the government to provide her with permanent employment so she can rebuild her life.
You can find the petition here.