The problem of child sexual abuse (CSA), save for the sensationalised news coverage of token cases, remains largely unaddressed. The issue, unfortunately, is not limited to misreporting but non-reporting of CSA to the authorities. It is estimated that the actual number of CSA cases are sadly much higher with a 2017 report by CRY (Child Rights and You) claiming that a child is sexually abused every 15 minutes in India. NCRB data shows that crime against children in India has increased by a staggering 14% between 2015 and 2016.
In these dark times, there is a need to generate awareness about sexual abuse among children.
Gone are the days when parents would cover their children's eyes when an intimate scene played out on the television. Parents fail to realise that children are smart. They will be intimated about the birds and the bees from their friends or the Internet. It cannot be stopped. It's just better if the knowledge comes from the right source in a more child-friendly manner.
While the concept of sex education in India is essentially non-existent, it is imperative to impart the knowledge of good touch and bad touch to little children. While there have been some government initiatives in this regard through some cartoon videos, the reach of these videos is limited.
However, things are moving forward as Tamil actor Sivakarthikeyan has now released a short film titled Modhi Vilayadu Paapa, aimed at creating awareness about child sexual abuse in a very child-friendly way.
In the five-minute film, children can be seen copying some sentences from the blackboard when an expensive car stops right outside. The children, gaping in wonder, cannot control their excitement when they see Sivakarthikeyan come out of the vehicle. The actor walks up to the blackboard and tells the overwhelmed students that he will be their class teacher for the day.
Talking about "ways to prevent ourselves from physical dangers", he proceeds to tell his students to not let any person touch certain body parts, further asking the children whether they are aware of what these body parts are?
Surprisingly, the children are well-versed. They cry out, "Chest, lips, down...and back."
The actor explains to the kids that these parts are called private parts and when someone touches these parts it is called an 'unsafe touch' which is very dangerous, however, adding that when a parent gives them a bath or hugs them affectionately it is a 'safe touch'.
The actor further guides the children about what to do when someone touches them inappropriately, but the children cut him short and scream, "NO." "But what if the person does not listen to you?" the actor questions the students. "We will run," the student sing in unison. The actor tells them to tell a parent or a trusted adult (like a teacher) about the incident.
Insisting that one should not feel afraid to tell an adult, Sivakarthikeyan perhaps makes the most important point--"It's not your fault".
The film not only deals with creating an awareness about physical touch but also talks about being forced to watch pornographic material by a predator. It ends with students repeating after Sivakartikeyan, "When you come across evil doers, You should never fear them, dear. You trample them under your feet, and dribble triumphantly on their face."
Watch the video here: