Farzana Gafoor is a documentary filmmaker based in London and the guest on my blog today. Her documentary Hush Hush is based on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse in India. Below is the trailer that was released recently.
Considering how rampant the problem is and yet how slow our corrective action is towards it, this documentary is set to reveal some uncomfortable and ugly truths.
Let’s hear it from Farzana:
- Tell us about this documentary in brief. The documentary shares the stories of survivors of CSA and creates awareness on the misconceptions the society has on Child Sexual Abuse. We have interviewed a psychiatrist, a therapist who share their insights on this issue. We also interviewed an activist, Insia Dariwala, who assist in housing and helping victims of CSA. It is highly important to hear the variety of stories and circumstances that these individuals who come from all walks of life on how they have coped, survived, in a positive and meaningful way.
- What made you approach such a serious subject This is actually my second film on CSA. The first one was an experimental film, Phoenix, where I had actors play the role of survivors. And post completion of the film, I still was not satisfied as I wanted to meet real survivors and share their stories with the world. And also this comes from a very personal experience. It is disheartening, especially to know that many cases involve very young children. We have to start educating children about “good and bad touch” at an early age. To tackle child sexual abuse the focus must be on prevention and awareness. Many in our country are under the impression that boys don’t get abused, its only girls. We forget to protect our boys when both male and female children are equally vulnerable to be subjected by this kind of abuse.
- What were your challenges while working on Hush Hush The biggest challenge that I thought is that I would never be able to find a survivor or a victim who would come forward to share their story in front of the camera, especially in India. But I was completely wrong. I got in touch with one of the survivors who ended up introducing me to a pool of other survivors from his support group. And they are the strongest people I have met by far. It amazed me to know that there are survivors out there who are waiting to share their stories so that this brings about a change and other children do not have to go through what they have been through.
- What were your learnings or lessons that you didn’t expect prior to beginning this project?Through this documentary, I met the founders of a Survivors support group, Bola, who themselves are survivors. As of now, the shocking fact is that they are the only support group of adult survivors of CSA in India. With India being such a huge and populated country and a lot of CSA cases happening at an alarming rate and it really shows a lack of awareness. For these survivors, it wasn’t about getting back at or seeking justice against their perpetrators, it was more about transforming themselves from a victim to a survivor by accepting that this wasn’t their fault and by getting the right help and therapy they need. In some cases, when a child goes through such a traumatic experience, the brain could suppress the memories of the trauma and he or she could go on about their adult life without knowing that such an incident happened to them. I learned this by meeting one of the survivors who had his memories of his abuse come back to him only at the age of 25.
- What solutions or changes you think this issue needs?Definitely more awareness programs. Just as how much important it is for a child to learn math and science, it should be the right of a child to be aware of this issue. And also for parents to know how to deal with it. The schools should have awareness programs like good touch and bad touch for the children accordingly to different age groups. Most children who have been subjected to such abuse, grow up thinking it is their fault and they had made a mistake. Someone needs to assure them it wasn’t. There should also be a process in such a way that when a child cannot confide to his or her parents, they should be able to talk to another trusted adult, for example, the child’s teacher. In that case, school teachers should be trained as to how to deal with children in these kinds of situations.
- When is the documentary coming out and where will it be available for viewing?We are looking for a good platform to release the documentary hopefully by the end of this year.