Sanya Runwal is unlike most teenagers her age. The 17-year-old Mumbai girl has been supporting one social cause after another. Last week, she launched her debut book — Ten Dollar Bride in Mumbai. Amruta Fadnavis and author Ravi Subramanian were present on the occasion.
Runwal says that the book is inspired by real-life events. It showcases an unflinching account of many young girls in India who live in the shadow of the country’s ruthless patriarchal set-up. “Whenever we open the newspaper, it mostly has reports about rape and acid attacks. I was fed up with so many stories. I felt helpless. I wanted to create something through which others can empathise with these girls. I wanted them to feel their agony and hopefully change the situation,” says Runwal, who studies at The Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai.
In 2016, Runwal, along with her friend launched Myna Mahila Foundation, through which they provide low cost sanitary napkins and maternity pads to women from the underprivileged sections of society.
Talking about her social initiatives, she says they want to make sanitary napkins accessible to everyone. “We are not only providing napkins but also creating employments with the NGO. We are the producers and consumers. In fact, those who can afford, can also adopt a girl and take care of her needs,” she says.
Point out to the title of her book and Runwal explains, “I wanted the title to be ironic. A bride is supposed to be priceless but a price is put on her.”
Talking about the research that has gone into writing the book, she says, “I haven’t spoken to any girls, most of my research happened through online and news articles. I used to keep reading articles and get angry. I could understand their pain and wanted to begin somewhere.”
But does her young age become an advantage when working to create social awareness or it goes against her ? “People might think that I am just 17 but I know how the world works. The fact is that I can find where the flaw lies and give a fresh perspective to it,” says Runwal.
The young student says that this social awareness comes from the fact youngsters like her are agitated and want to do something about the wrong things happening around them. “We have access to the internet and we are able to reach people. Each one of us is ready to speak up and bring change,” she says, adding that she also wants to work for the betterment of women and the LGBT community.”
The author is happy that she has been able to bring in a minor change in the mindset of her family. “I always argue with my grandmother and she has now become more accepting of a lot of issues,” she says before signing off.