Noted women’s rights activist Sonal Shukla passed away at a hospital in Mumbai on Thursday. She was 80.
The chief founder trustee of Vacha Charitable Trust, she had been working with adolescent girls and women from the 1980s. Popularly known as “Sonal Ben”, she had been actively involved in feminist movements for many decades and was also the co-founder of the group Forum Against Rape, which is now known as the Forum Against Oppression of Women. In early days, Shukla had turned a room in her home as a support centre for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Vacha, a non-profit that she had co-founded, had started as a resource centre for anyone wanting to know about women’s movement. The centre served as the first only-women’s book library with a collection of over 3,000 books. It also went on to document the lives of women freedom fighters in the early 20th century.
A recipient of many awards, Shukla, early this year, was recognised as a Feminist Icon in India by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a pro-democracy and social justice non-profit based in Germany.
Her last rites will be performed at the Vile Parle Seva Samaj Crematorium. An online memorial meet is also being organised by Vacha on Saturday at 4pm.