Mumbai-based leading non-profit organisation working on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse has engaged Bollywood star Vidya Balan as their goodwill ambassador. She had played the role of Durga Rani Singh a survivor of child sexual abuse, in the movie Kahaani 2, where she saved another child who was being sexually abused by her uncle.
Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is a startling everyday reality for as many as half of the country’s children (National Child Abuse Study 2007). With the ever-increasing reports of child sexual abuse, we know that the scenario is not too different even today. Yet it is still an issue that is barely addressed. There is a limited acceptance that CSA happens and that it has a significant impact on children. CSA can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, addictions, and suicidal thoughts and can continue to disrupt the child’s life during adulthood if not healed.
Based in Mumbai, Arpan is one of the largest NGOs in India with over 100 social workers and counsellors providing prevention and intervention services to children and adults to address the issue of CSA. Over the last 10 years, Arpan has reached out to over 188,000 children, adolescents and adults directly. Arpan has also trained over 3,500 professionals across India and impacted over 4,60,000 children and adults. Arpan works on prevention of CSA through the Personal Safety Education Programme conducted in schools and communities, Training Programmes for relevant stakeholders, Policy Advocacy to bring in systemic change and healing through their Counselling Services to survivors of CSA.
Talking about her association with Arpan, Vidya said, “I first connected with Arpan during the filming of Kahaani 2 to understand the issue better and get into the skin of my role. I was amazed by the kind of work Arpan does on the issue especially working with children across age groups and their caregivers to prevent Child Sexual Abuse and heal survivors from the trauma of such an ordeal. As a society, it is critical that we look at how such a social evil can be prevented and how each of us can play a role in keeping children safe. Given the current scenario in our country, now more than ever there is a need for all us to step up and work towards preventing Child Sexual Abuse.”
Ms Pooja Taparia, Founder and CEO of Arpan said “It is an honour for Arpan to have a celebrated actor like Vidya Balan as our Goodwill ambassador. Vidya’s roles have always been inspiring and action-oriented. It was a privilege working with her during the making of Kahaani 2. Her role in the movie as Durga Rani Singh, a survivor of child sexual abuse was a powerful one. She wasn’t a silent bystander, but actually took action to protect a girl from Child Sexual Abuse and that’s an inspiring message for all of us. Much like her role in the movie, over the years, Arpan has played a very important role in the lives of numerous children and adults in the prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. With Vidya Balan as our goodwill ambassador, we hope to influence many more people to speak up for prevention of child sexual abuse and to play an active role in creating a safe environment so that our children, the future of our nation, do not become victims of Child Sexual Abuse or have traumatic childhoods but have safe and happy childhoods.”
When asked what her message on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse is, Vidya said, “My message to everyone is that don’t think that Child Sexual Abuse is something that happens to other’s children. The unfortunate truth is that it could happen to your child or it could be happening to your child. We all need to be vigilant. We all need to be aware and acknowledge when we see the signs. We need to educate our children so that when they experience an unsafe situation, they are empowered enough to get away and seek help from a trusted adult.”
What started in 2008 as a nascent organisation that reached about 600 people in a year, has now grown to an organisation that reaches over 56,000 people annually with the vision of a ‘World Free from Child Sexual Abuse’. Arpan is supported by Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala (India), Mr. Karl-Johan Persson (CEO, H&M Worldwide, Sweden), Goldman Sachs (India), Eros International Media (India), The Marshall Foundation (France), GMSP Foundation (UK), The Global Fund for Children (USA), Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (India), A.T.E and Chandra Philanthropic Foundation (India), British Asian Trust (UK), Reliance Foundation (India), Aditya Birla Finance Limited(India), Bajaj Auto Limited (India) amongst others. With Vidya Balan as a goodwill ambassador, here’s hoping that Arpan grows manifold in being able to amplify conversations around the issue Child Sexual Abuse while working diligently on its prevention and healing at the grassroots and systemic level.
Photo credit: Dabboo Ratnani