The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pre-marital sex ok' Oops, it’s not

Chennai, Sept. 26: Tamil actor Kushboo today apologised for her reported remarks on pre-marital relationships and free sex, which had prompted a storm of protests and a defamation petition against her.

“There is nothing wrong in girls having pre-marital sex, provided safe measures are followed by them to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases,” Kushboo had reportedly said in a cover feature on single women’s attitude to sex in the Tamil edition of a national magazine last week.

This evening, Kushboo ' in a statement circulated to the media ' said she respected Tamil society, its cultural ethos and women in particular. “I am deeply sorry if my remarks had hurt anybody. I am one among you. I am so sorry if I have hurt women’s feelings,” the actor said.

Kushboo said the published version of her opinion in the Tamil version of the magazine had given a distorted picture. When the magazine asked questions based on the findings of a survey, “I had expressed certain views solely on the basis of those findings,” said the actor.

“I had only expressed my anguish that the world over such thoughts and tendencies were on the ascendant, but what appeared in print gave a wrong impression,” she said.

“Ever since I set foot on this soil, I have always imbibed the Tamil spirit and at no time have I said or done anything to cast a slur on Tamil women,” said Kushboo, who came to Tamil Nadu from Maharashtra to make a career in films.

“I did not suddenly fly away to Singapore after this controversy. That trip was planned well in advance,” said the actor for whom some of her fans had even wanted to build a temple in Tiruchirappalli.

Kushboo, who now mainly features on TV shows and comperes a popular quiz programme on Jaya TV, said she had cancelled engagements in Singapore and taken the next flight home to “explain my position”, when she heard of the furore that her remarks had created in Tamil Nadu.

The Dalit Panthers of India and the Pattali Makkal Katchi leading the Tamil Protection Movement were up in arms. The Tamil movement condemned Kushboo’s “denigration”. Volunteers yesterday marched to the Then Indiya Nadigar Sangam (South Indian Film Artistes Association) with broomsticks and footwear in hand to protest the actors remarks. Today, the volunteers rode a Kushboo effigy on a donkey to her residence.

This morning, the secretary of the PMK’s central Chennai women’s wing, Deepam Jayakumar, filed a defamation petition in a metropolitan magistrate’s court against Kushboo, who had gone to Singapore for a few days with her director husband, Sundar.

Four women lawyers from Tiruchirappalli even slammed a legal notice on the South Indian Film Artistes Association, seeking explanation for Kushboo’s “bold remarks” on free sex, which they termed an “affront on motherhood”, while a Left women’s group in Salem burnt the actor’s effigy.

Film industry observers say the damage has been done, adding that Kushboo could have even been the victim of “vested interests” as she is an outspoken artiste. The actor had recently grilled Tamil film director Thangar Baachan for his disparaging remarks against women artistes and had openly demanded an apology from him on the premises of the South Indian Film Artistes Association.

Public reaction in Chennai was mixed. “They have made too much of what Kushboo reportedly said,” remarked Latha, a second-year history student at a city college. “It is after all the opinion of an independent woman. Why make a big fuss about it'” asked Malathi, a housewife in her thirties.

“She need not have aired such views in public,” said Selvaraj, an autorickshaw driver and a diehard Kushboo fan.

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