For an Indian woman it is very difficult to become a wrestler, let alone be an elite wrestler. We face a lot of difficulties because of our environment. Our society does not allow girls to leave the house too often. When I began wrestling, the school did not give me the permission. They would ask us to go to assembly, attend all periods. It was a real struggle at the beginning. I never got a second to rest in the day. I had no equipment or the knowledge. I had no knowledge of any injuries. My relatives used to tell my parents that she is a girl… …keep her inside the house. It is very dangerous for her Why are you allowing your daughters to play so much? The villages of Haryana, especially the older people They have this thought of having a boy child, it was very important. You’re married at an early age. You are not allowed to go out of the house. You’re not allowed to work In Haryana the thought process was that girls
are not supposed to be in sports, not get educated. They shouldn’t be educated at all let alone letting them play sports. Life for a normal girl is very difficult. But I am very independent. I make my own decisions about life. Vinesh never thought herself as a girl. We always treated all of them equally, as boys. She has always lived like an equal. Village girls have nothing in their hands… whether it be education, or marriage. Nothing. Everything is decided by their families. Marriage or anything else — whether it’s right or wrong — girl’s have no say. That certainly hurts because, we are also human beings. Why are girls considered so weak that they can’t even make decisions concerning their own lives? Wrestlers can’t live in an overbearing environment. We are independent. And we think differently. Women athletes could be the driving force for the societal change that we need in India. From villages to the cities, people, parents look up to them. They want their girls to become like them. So I think if they come out and speak about the discrimination, speak about it, they challenge it. I think they will be the best people doing it. I do talk about women issues when asked by the media. I am a woman myself and people know me so my voice has an effect. I am a woman myself and people know me so my voice has an effect. I want to say, please, making girls powerful is necessary please support them. Indian women are very strong, very talented. Freedom does not mean you tell her ‘go do whatever you wish to, play sport’. Real freedom means you let your child do whatever he/she wants to… plus you support it. If girls are learning from watching me train, I train with them so that they feel normal and realise that I also started from here and if I can do it so can you. As a girl I feel very proud of my impact. I always tell girls that you are not weak. You are very strong. If I can go the Olympics and bring a medal, Which nobody in India expected from female wrestling, then you can also do anything.