Bollywood A-list actresses have taken a lead by standing up for social causes from personal experiences, including sexual abuse. The most recent actress to speak up against child sexual abuse is Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani actress Kalki Koechlin, who has opened up about her own horrific ordeal.
While most actresses keep such issues in the closet, Kalki addressed the topic with a brave face. “The reason I spoke out about my sexual abuse is not to get people to feel sorry for me but to give others who have had similar circumstances the confidence to talk about it,” said Kalki in an interview with Humans of Bombay. In an interview with NDTV the actress did not shy away from the topic that we fail to deal with to this day.
She gave a brief account of her ordeal. “I allowed someone to have sex with me at the age of nine, not understanding fully what it meant and my biggest fear after was that my mother would find out. I felt it was my mistake and so I kept it hidden for years. If I had had the confidence or awareness to confide in my parents it would have saved me years of complexes about my own sexuality. It’s important that parents remove the taboo around the word sex or private parts so kids can speak openly and be saved from potential abuse,” she said.
Although Kalki did not divulge in personal details of her case, she did however mention that her friends faced the same issue during their childhood. “Many of us have gone through it and most of the people that I know, especially close friends of mine who are women, have gone through some form of CSA (child sexual abuse). It’s just so out there, so much of it that I think it’s not something that should be ignored,” said the 31-year-old actress.
Having been through the incident as a child, Kalki stressed on the impact it has on children. “Anything to do with sexual abuse is a taboo, which is why it is brushed under the carpet.” She disclosed that 53% of India’s population is dealing with child sexual abuse, but these are only the reported cases. She believes that in order for children to speak up about the experience, the mentality regarding sexual abuse needs to change.
She felt that children need to be educated about the situation at home and school so that they are not reluctant before approaching an elder regarding the matter. “Sometimes it’s important to speak about it, break the silence; other times it’s important to have a place to go to where you can trust somebody whether it be a psychiatrist, a family member, or a social set-up, an organization which helps when you talk about these things. The problem is we don’t have these trusted areas to go,” said the concerned actress. Sixty per cent of the cases involve a relative or someone the child already knows, which is why it’s a sensitive and difficult issue to tackle.
Earlier, Kalki spoke at a conference on child sexual abuse organised by actor Rahul Bose’s NGO H.E.A.L. She had made headlines some time back for her spectacular monologue on Women’s Day and is one of the few celebrities who have been vocal about women’s issues, also starring in a satirical video about violence against women.
With regards to how the experience shaped her as a person she said, “It took me many years to come out and talk about it. My writing, art and acting are outlets, ways of expressing myself, and dealing with the issue.” However, self-acceptance and dealing with abuse can only come with loving oneself. “I believe love is selfish, because only a person who loves themselves fully, can give fully without expecting, without needing, without dependency. I’m not there yet, but I fight to be myself everyday in a world where we are constantly pressurized to be someone else, and that daily fight is my pursuit for love.”