In a shocking revelation (or no more shocking anymore?), a government-commissioned survey had found that more than 53 % of children in India are subjected to sexual abuse. Unfortunately, most don't report the assaults to anyone, in fact, the reporting is only six percent compared to over 53% of abuse. How can we forget the recent news of a three-year-old child sexually violated at a private school in East Bangalore?
In 'Bitter Chocolate', journalist and author Pinki Virani has brought to the light the darkness of child abuse that is prevalent in our society and the perpetrators who mostly reside in our homes. She travels across India, to record the testimonies of the police, doctors, child psychologists, mental health professionals, lawyers and the traumatised child victims. It is agonising, also a clear revelation of the apathy and degradation in our society. The need for change is loud and clear.
In this scenario, there is one woman and her team that has refused to take this problem lying down. Meet Deepa Kumar, maker of HowToTellYourChild.com, a platform that provides educators and parents easy tools to teach children tough topics like sexual abuse and puberty. The platform provides animated videos, tools and products to make this education fun and positive.
Deepa is a seasoned entrepreneur and her venture, Yashram Lifestyle, which she started in 2007, has been working in the following areas:
Morph Maternity, a maternity wear line with multiple innovations for the comfort of a new mom.
Adira, women inner wear line with the patent pending, Period Panty and other innovative products like little lady bras, anti-cellulite shapewear, etc.
And like most meaningful ideas, this platform shaped up not only because of the constant news on sexual abuse, etc., but also because Deepa is the mother of two little girls. "Being a mother of two little girls, it was an absolute nightmare for me to teach them about sexual abuse. And going forward I had to teach them about puberty and the birds and bees as well. I was not the only one with this challenge. A lot of my friends were going through the same issue. I wished that there was an easy tool to help me with this. And the main vision of the project was to deliver these lessons to the children in a truthful and fun way," says the driven entrepreneur. And so started this project. "My colleagues, Priya, Parul and I started working on this idea about a year and a half ago. We roped in freelance artists, animators, voice artists and this is the outcome of all that."
Deepa is determined to make this video tool reach every parent and teacher. "There are lots of things in the pipeline, we are looking at getting the videos in regional languages, and then of course, embracing all the tough topics which we fail to teach our kids."
The underlying strength of this platform is the way in which Deepa and her team have tackled the issue. It's not easy to teach children about self-guarding themselves against harassment, abuse, etc. and keep the enthusiasm and innocence intact. And, yet these videos have exactly done that. You can see the videos and the delicate handling of the subject stand out in its simplicity.
Noted psychiatrist Dr. Shyamala Vatsa says,
A little girl listening to her mom telling her to be careful about people touching her can hardly imagine how that can harm her. Especially when there has never been a precedent. If a mother is in tuned with her child and knows how trusting she is by nature, she can use a video as a supplement to explain things better. The video will be more useful if it is played in an atmosphere of security, without giving the child an impression that the world is an unsafe place, because if such an idea takes root, it’s going to make her a fearful, nervous little girl. The balance is important.