Bollywood & CSA: Scenes from Kahaani 2

The first half of the 2015 Bollywood sequel ‘Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh’ is  a straightforward dramatic adaptation of a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training Module as delivered by a terrific Vidya Balan. It offers a rare sensitive portrayal of a child and her trusted adult dealing with various aspects of understanding, speaking up against and reporting sexual abuse.

Also striking is the movie’s portrayal of the perpetrators. The first Kahaani move had some pretty memorable villains. Part 2 adds some worthy contenders to the rogue’s gallery.

(spoiler alert!)

The main villain, a close family relative of the child, is the leering histrionic sort (made extra creepy by the perverse choice of getting an erstwhile child actor to play the role). However, the truly insidious are relatives, friends, teachers, police etc who refuse to believe the child and the reporter. They represent society’s jaundiced & regressive attitudes towards the issue and the victims. Who needs a one-eyed henchmen when you have friends and relatives like these?

‘Kahaani 2’ contains some of the most accurate portrayals of established facts around child sexual abuse that don’t otherwise find representation in movies. In most cases of abuse, it is not a stranger who abuses the child. Rather, it is someone the child knows, like a close relative, neighbor or family friend. Also it shows how people around the abuser tend to deny or overlook the fact that he is abusing a child even when presented with proof. It shows how society refuses to believe that an educated upper middle class businessman can ever commit sexual offences against a child. And most heartbreaking-ly, it shows the little child internalizing the denial around her and blaming herself for being abused.

(end spoilers)

The movie does not withhold on portraying various traumas that visit the child on account of her history with abuse. But it also does not treat abuse with the kind of ‘this is the end of your life’ permanent damnation that even the most progressive-minded Bollywood movies resort to. The movie believes that with love and support, the child can overcome and move into a brighter future that need not be encumbered by her past traumas.

In a movie that can get pretty dark, this subtle streak of innate hopefulness brings in the light.

We’ve culled out and edited together a few scenes that you can use to kickstart a conversation around the issue of sexual offences against children. You can use these videos either as stand-alones or as part of a child sexual abuse prevention module that you are facilitating. The scenes are illustrative of key aspects of the issue. With the right questions asked, they can be potential starting points for an illuminating session around the issue.

Finding Out If A Child Has Been Sexually Abused

Identifying Child Sexual Abuse is not a simple or straightforward process. Getting a child to talk about what is happening to them is more than just a question-and-answer session. It requires you to be sensitive, mindful & even creative when interacting with a child. Click here for resources on identifying child sexual abuse.

Why Do Children Feel Guilty When They Are Victims of Abuse?

Children who are subject to sexual abuse do not find it easy to open up & talk abut it. This may be because they have a very real fear that if they talk about the abuse, they will be judged for it. This may also be because they have been groomed (bribed/threatened/flattered/coerced) by the perpetrators into believing that they are in a relationship of ‘love’ with each other. Children are afraid that they may lose this ‘love’ if they speak up about the abuse.

The Challenges of Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

Indian Law makes it mandatory for every citizen who knows of a case of child sexual abuse or is suspicious of a child being abused to report the case to the nearest police station. Reporting the crime can possibly help save a child’s life however there are many challenges that one encounters while doing so. A lot of it has to do with a general lack of sensitivity within systems that are meant to protect & safeguard the child victim. Click here for our resources on Pursuing Justice.

How Can A Young Child Know The Difference Between Love & Abuse?

Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation. Children and young people can be groomed face-to-face or online, by a stranger or by someone they know. Groomers may be male or female and could be of any age. Many children and young people don’t understand that they have been groomed or that what has happened to them is a form of abuse. They may tend to feel that what is developing between them and the perpetrator is a ‘relationship’. Click here for our resources on grooming.

Perpetrators Threatening the Reporters

Often when a case of child sexual abuse is reported, the perpetrator attempts to threaten or pressurize the victim or even the reporter so that they may withdraw the case.

All clips has been excerpted from the movie ‘Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh’. We encourage you to watch the entire film.

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