You will not see this tribute to you, and even if you did you would not be able to read it because you are illiterate. So you will probably never know that around the world there are Asian women who look up to you as their heroine.

You must have an inkling, however, because media folk worldwide are at present lasciviously crouching around your story, enticing you and even fighting you to gain rights to what is essentially your life in order to turn it into a spectacle and make millions.

You are battling this week in the Indian Supreme Court to have The Bandit Queen, a Channel 4 film of your life, banned. By challenging them, once again you are making history, showing yourself smarter even than those who live in royal palaces.

You, who were born a wretchedly poor, low-caste village girl, married off at 11, abused by your 30-year-old husband, sold to bandits, gang-raped, physically tortured, betrayed, driven to the edge. But you didn't kill yourself the way so many Asian women do - in huge numbers, even here in Britain - when they are faced with unspeakable pain. You didn't crawl back into your allotted place and become a silent martyr as we are all taught to do. You didn't blame yourself for the violation and torment you suffered.

Best of all you decided to take control of your life.

Now maybe it wasn't the most salubrious or commendable choice of career that you made. Being a bandit queen - raising hell on horses with wild men ready to follow your every whim and order, boasting about your prowess ('when I was boss, not a leaf would stir unless I said so'), using revenge to fuel your purpose, spending years in prison - is not the kind of role model I can easily hold up to my daughter. Especially when in your sparkling eyes there appears to be no sign of remorse for the bad things you admit you did.

Perhaps that is the only way you could have changed your fate in a country that continues to deny women like you any humanity, any rights, any will.

Today you are a heroine in that same country, the wife of a respectable businessman, a woman who is courted by powerful and illustrious folk, many of whom would still not drink a glass of water handed to them by an untouchable and who judge their own women by how conformist and obedient they are.

I am not sure many of us, even those who are educated and successful, would have the courage to do what you have done. We are too bound up in trying (and failing) to live up to the pervasive ideal of the perfectly passive Asian woman. So I guess I will tell my daughter your story one day, so she can learn that there are women in her heritage who, though not flawless, at least didn't lie down and thank the world for trampling on them.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (Photograph omitted)

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