A short film doing the rounds on India's social media space, No Go Tell, featuring Malayalam superstar Nivin Pauly, has gathered much praise in a short time.
Why is the video being talked about? Because it is on child sexual abuse. Pauly plays himself and sits with a group of children in a park, animatedly explaining to them the difference between the "good touch" and the "bad touch". He talks to them about the parts of the body considered intimate and how, as a child, one should trust five adults and talk to them if anyone touches them, violates their bodies.
I too grew up in Kerala, and when I was in school, no one bothered to teach me the difference between the good and the bad touch. As children, we were exposed to many an assault. From a man shagging on the side of the road, to another flashing you as you walked to school, to a third trying to grab your body in the alleyway. I had my first encounter with a flasher when I was 12 and, a year later, another man tried to grab my non-existent breasts. Such was life.
No Go Tell has brought much-needed change. An adult talking to children about what can happen when you are playing in a park, at home or at school. When one thinks about sex or abuse, it's always your mother and you having the talk.
And up until now, this talk was reserved for when a "girl child" grows up and matures, a polite way of saying when a girl gets her period.
No one addressed the matter of the boy being abused. But, with No Go Tell, a stranger is telling a group of children the same.
When I was in the sixth grade, sanitary napkin makers whisper came to my school and held a session - only with girls - about what happens to a girl who attains puberty. Why just us?
If I had my way, both boys and girls should be educated about menstruation. Afterall, it is a cycle of life.
Why must it be a woman talking to another woman? Is it because they understand and address a problem better? No. It is our society - how can a man talk to a girl about sex, menstruation and abuse!
This needs to change and that is why I welcome this short film by Bodhini. Pauly sits on the bench, talking to both girls and boys about how you should not let people violate you.
It sends out a clear message: dear fathers, it is time for you to face it. You can give "the talk" as well and it will not be awkward. You can talk to your child, with the help of a diagram or with a stern face telling her/him why it could happen to them. It will only make you a trustworthy adult your daughter or son can open up to.
Tell your little boy that he can be violated by a bad touch too - just like your little girl.
Teachers in schools must also be proactive. Don't wait for the sixth grade. Ensure your students learn about the touch at an early age.
And if a child can't tell their mother or father about such an assault, at least be the trusted adult he or she can confide in.
Child sexual abuse is an issue that needs to be addressed in every school and household, and until you break the ice, your child won't open up to you.
Children blame themselves for anything that happens to them. A child who is touched inappropriately will know it's wrong, but will be scared to reveal it, because he/she can't comprehend what happened to them - they would wonder what they did to attract such attention.
I still remember the time when a man masturbated at me, at a public park near my house. I was scared to step into the park after that.
Did I speak to my parents about it? No. Because I knew it was wrong, but could not communicate it. Looking back, if I had just told my mother or father about the pervert standing in the park, they would have got him arrested. And it's not just me, he must've have traumatised so many other children in the same way.
It all comes down to having the talk. Talk about the reality facing your children because as parents, grandparents, teachers, siblings or friends, if you don't, then videos like No Go Tell can do little to change the world.