Mar 112014

Trigger warning for sexual abuse

I am so excited to see so much groundbreaking work coming out of India. This video made by Childline, a hotline for kids in distress in India, is a short, animated film teaching kids how to identify incidences of sexual violence, and how to reach out for help. It does a great job of developing the two main characters, a sweet young playful girl named Komal, and her family friend, a loving and playful friend of her father’s. He buys her gifts, teaches her to keep secrets, and generally behaves in a very loving and caring manner toward her. Until the one day he assaults her, leaving her to feel ashamed and confused. She reaches out to her mother and father, who decides to call Childline. The video then shows a counselor coming in to comfort Komal, and teach her and her classmates about how to identify and address child abuse. I particularly found this video to be especially great because:

  • it is respectful. There is modesty associated around the body parts in the South Asian world. It is considered disrespectful to openly use the names of male and female anatomy. In some communities, simply using the term can be enough to shut the individual out, making the lesson no longer effective. The video takes this into account, and still teaches about the four “no-touch zones” while honoring that cultural practice. The video uses diagrams and other animated images to specifically demonstrate where those private areas out, while still respecting the practice of not using those terms.
  • it offers clear and easy tips for anyone to be a resource. The second half of the video teaches what children can do to identify these situations, what they can do to help each other, and who are “safe” and “trustworthy” adults.
  • it clearly pushes back against victim blaming and shaming, which is rampant in South Asian societies. A big barrier to publicly address incidents of sexual violence in India and other South Asian societies is that often, the survivor is further victimized and blamed for the situation, rather than holding the aggressor accountable. This short film pushes back on the notion that it is the fault of the victim, and instead shows the aggressor being held responsible for his actions. It allows victims the space to come forward without feeling the stress of being blamed or judged.
  • it offers parents and teachers a way to facilitate a difficult conversation. Because of the taboo and embarrassment around these topics, in particular sexual abuse, it remains unaddressed, leaving many children unequipped to identify when they are in such situations. This video provides an excellent opportunity for parents and teachers to begin this much needed conversation.

Watch this video – also available in several Indian dialects, here, and let us know what you think!

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