Anita Rani reveals she was treated differently to her brother

Woman’s Hour host Anita Rani, 43, reveals her family treated her ‘differently’ to her brother in their Punjabi household because they didn’t ‘celebrate girls’

  • Women’s Hour host Anita Rani opened up about Punjabi upbringing in Bradford
  • Said she was treated differently to her brother Kuldeep, because she was a girl 
  • Said was always told marriage was important, but not pressured to have child  

Anita Rani has told how growing up in a Punjabi household meant her family had different expectations for her than they did for her brother. 

The TV personality, 43, who grew up in Bradford, has long credited her Punjabi upbringing for her successful broadcasting career which led to her presenting Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. 

The host has also starred in staple shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, Who Do You Think you Are? and Country File and has now spoken about the adversity she has faced. 

Speaking to the Sunday Times Magazine, Anita and her brother Kuldeep have revealed how their upbringing differed from the rest of their family.

The host said her parents often said Kuldeep, who was calm and unlike other Punjabi men, should have been born a girl and she, who was loud, should have been the boy.  

Woman’s Hour host Anita Rani, pictured, has said her Punjabi family expected her to be quiet and her brother not to be so sensitive (pictured in 2019)

‘Women are treated differently in a Punjabi household. On the day I was born my gran said, “We don’t celebrate girls”,’ Anita said. 

She claimed she was told to be obedient and quiet and that marriage was important, and that it was deeply ingrained in her family’s culture that boys were to be treasured. 

She recalled she was the one who had to do the dishes because boys were not expected to help with chores in Punjabi culture.  

‘The first time he went out and rolled in at 3am with his mates, my mum was up and made them all chapattis. She never did that for me,’ the host added. 

Anita and her brother were raised by their mother Lakhbir (Lucky) and their father Balvinder, who met through an arranged marriage (pictured: Anita as a toddler with her parents)

The presenter said she married her husband Bhupi Rehal, pictured with her in 2018, because he was not an usual Punjabi man 

Anita admitted she had to ‘battle’ in order to have long studies and to create something for herself even though her parents were liberal. 

When she applied to go to university and to live in the halls, the broadcasting star said her mother told her: ‘You know how many people have said that we give you too much freedom, and that you’re too educated?’ 

She added that while her parents never forced her to get married, she felt they indoctrinated her from birth by telling her she could marry anyone she liked as long as they were an Indian man. 

The TV host married her husband, Bhupi, who she lives with in East London, after the pair met in 2008.   

Meanwhile, in the same interview, Kuldeep said he had family pressures on his shoulders to be less sensitive and to provide for his family and his parents.  

The pair were raised by their mother Lakhbir (Lucky) and their father Balvinder, who met through an arranged marriage. 

In 2015, Anita starred in Strictly Come Dancing, pictured, and Who Do You Think You Are? and Country File 

Balvinder’s parents came to the UK when he was four, and in 2020, Anita, speaking to Mailonline, described him as a ‘Yorkshire Man through and though.’  

Because she attended a private school where most pupils were white, the broadcaster said she grew up in a life full of contrast. 

She also said she and Kuldeep help her parents’ manufacturing business and that she was encouraged to get a job as soon as possible in order to make herself some pocket money. 

At the time, she had reflected on racism and said: ‘Of course I have experienced racism but maybe not as badly as my husband, an Asian male. 

‘For a long time we have acknowledged that we have to work twice as hard and we were made to feel grateful for opportunities. Our parents taught us that we have to “get on with it”.  

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