THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The campaign short ‘No Go Tell’ starring Nivin Pauly has blown away the taboo that had traditionally gagged parents from talking to their children about dangers to their body. In the six-and-a-half-minute film made by Jude Anthany Joseph, Nivin Pauly directly enters into a discussion about private body parts with children in a park, without making it sound the least bit dramatic or crude. However, considering the complexity of child sex abuse in the state, those working with victims feel that the film, though empowering, is too simplistic, even naïve.
The social justice department figures show that more than 60 percent of child abuse happens inside the house, not outside. “The information provided by the filmstar will work if the perpetrator is a stranger, not if it is someone within the house, like a step-father or an uncle,” said P.E. Usha, the project director of Mahila Samakhya Society that runs eight Nirbhaya Homes in the state. Pauly tells children to first scream ‘No’ when someone attempts to touch their private parts, then ‘Go’, which is to run away from the abuser, and finally to ‘Tell’ one or more of their five trusted adults, whom Pauly calls “bodyguards.” ‘Amma’ and ‘Appa’ are their most trusted adults, the children say. Pauly even differentiates the touch of parents from that of strangers, including doctors.
When the script of the film was discussed in the Child Rights Commission, there was strong objection to the idea of parents as protectors. “The film just blindly subscribes to an accepted social norm, upholding the father’s role as the provider and protector. The reality is when the provider - be it the father, or stepfather, or uncle, or even the local religious head – turns abuser, the child would not be able to even comprehend the behaviour, let alone run and complain to the mother,” Usha said. As per the social justice department figures, 72 percent of victims do not open up even before a trained counsellor. Further, it was found that only five percent of mothers were supportive of their children when it was revealed that their husbands or partner had been the abuser.