Two Films. Two Worlds. And an Issue: Child Sexual Abuse and Us

child sexual abuse

TV writer and film reviewer Nandini Arora urges us to take a firm stand on Child Sexual Abuse.
For our own benefit.

I happened to watch two movies recently – Ajji directed by Devashish Makhija and Ribbon by Rakhee Sandilya. Both talk of Child Sexual Abuse and rape. Since Goregaon Highway Pulse has a lot of parents as its readership we could recognise it, acknowledge it and address it better, together.


Ribbon is the story about a young, urban couple who deals with the many issues that a young marriage may face. However, towards the end of the film an issue sneaks up on us – of child sexual abuse or CSA. The couple’s young daughter (4-7 years bracket) is being abused by a bhaiyya who comes to pick her up for school bus and has been appointed by the school authorities.

Parents swiftly respond to that, taking this up with the school authorities. The principal despite appearing to be sensitive at first, soon joins the trustees of the school and tries to dismiss the accusation, implying that the little girl was lying. The film ends with no solution to this but ends with better understanding between the couple, which in fact was the key theme of the film.


Ajji on the other hand is all about the brutal rape of a 10-year-old female child by an MLA’s son. She lives in a slum with her parents and ajji (grandmother) where all three adults are desperately trying to make ends meet. It is a hard look at poverty where survival must trump any hope of justice. Ajji however, refuses to accept this reality which is a choice between existing or getting justice. She literally takes the matter in her own hands and is able to brutally chopping of the perpetrator’s penis, leaving him to die, bleeding.

The two words are starkly different. Yet this issue brings them on the same page. In the world of Ribbon, we can see how much privilege the parents still have. Even after getting their concerns dismissed by authorities, they can afford to take up a longer fight for justice. In Ajji’s world, justice, at least in the legal sense seems very bleak.

Just a few hours post the discovery of the raped child thrown away in a gutter full of garbage, she is expected to give testimony to a rather insensitive cop, who is here ‘handling’ the case. He is in cahoots with the powers that be and wants money from the families of both the accused and victim!

We the People

Watching both the films was a huge toll on the heart. However, they MUST be watched.

We are looking away from these news reports every day! There is no judgement about why we look away – there is just so much pain and horror we can take in addition to our already challenging adult lives. And, as for parents, the fear is sometimes so huge that we would rather look away than to stare in straight in the eye.

But the question is can we really afford to look away?  Can we afford to not to be educated and empowered? If we, who live in the world of Ribbon, don’t respond to this at a war footing, how can we extend our assistance to those who are living in the world of Ajji ?

The crux of the matter is however that we are not prepared enough. We are NOT doing enough to save all these children. We need to move away from the clichés of children being the future of the world and actually be empowered with more knowledge of Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) and teaching our children about sexual abuse.

Every Child Needs a Champion

There is no age early enough to prepare them, a trained CSA worker will be able to help you with the vocabulary and other tools to do so. We need to be in tune with the kids at all times (highest percentage of CSA is reported in families and by abusers known to us) and make the school authorities be unconditionally answerable, even if it involves fragmented family ties, people calling us shrill and hyper doom mongers. And most of ALL we must at all times, no exceptions, trust our child’s testimony implicitly.

Our little ones have come into the world because we wanted them and it is totally up to us to give them the safest world that we can. Together, we can do it better.

– Nandini Arora

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