Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 17 May 2021 9.09 AM IST

The story behind Rhea Chakraborty’s viral T-shirt


On September 8, as actor Rhea Chakraborty walked into the office of the Narcotics Control Bureau in Mumbai, she didn’t say a word, but made a statement with her T-shirt. Just before she was arrested on that day, her photograph wearing the black tee with the message — “Roses are red, violets are blue, let’s smash patriarchy, me and you” — went viral on social media.

Several Bollywood actors and filmmakers, including Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam K Ahuja, Vidya Balan, Anurag Kashyap, Shabana Azmi, Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar shared the quote on social media in a show of solidarity with Chakraborty. “Everyone loves a witchhunt as long as it’s someone else’s witch being hunted,” wrote Ahuja on Instagram, borrowing American novelist-critic Walter Kirn’s quote.

A day later, it was brought to notice through social media that the T-shirt was part of the ‘Roses Are Red’ campaign, initiated by the online pop culture merchandise store The Souled Store, in collaboration with NGO GiveHer5, in 2018. “Since we had been working on educating and providing women in rural India with safe and sustainable menstrual hygiene solutions since early 2017, the company reached out to us to collaborate for a fundraising initiative. The campaign did very well at the time, then grew to its natural conclusion,” said Shivani Swamy, Project Manager, GiveHer5. It provides Saafkins, “a reusable and affordable sanitary panty to women that would otherwise resort to unhygienic and harmful alternatives”.

“The idea of the campaign was simple. We wanted to create fun and quirky T-shirts which also drove home the message of women empowerment. For every T-shirt sold, one menstruating woman’s need for an entire year was taken care of. There are so many women in India who can’t afford sanitary napkins, which makes them miss up to five days of school or work every month. GiveHer5 had developed a reusable sanitary napkin and we wanted to raise awareness on this issue and help raise funds,” says Rohin Samtaney, co-founder and Director of The Souled Store. They had supported over a thousand women with the sanitary napkins in 2018, he said.

“With recent news and media coverage, the message of the T-shirt took a new meaning, and it went viral on social media. We reached out to the GiveHer5 day before yesterday as many who recalled the original campaign reached out and requested us to get it back,” said Samtaney. The company has now started taking pre-orders. It has received a few hundred orders, and plans to run it for a few more days. “We don’t really have anything to do with the case, but if the message helps us raise some more money for the cause, why not?” he said.

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