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How Jyotika’s Ponmagal Vandhal Gave A Child Survivor Courage To Speak Up About Her Abuse

In today’s world, media, especially movies, play a huge role in influencing our culture and overall perception, and are especially inspiring in cases like this one.

In today’s world, media, especially movies, play a huge role in influencing our culture and overall perception, and are especially inspiring in cases like this one.

Trigger warning: This has child sexual abuse and may be triggering for survivors.

Ponmagal Vandhal is a Tamil film centered around court room drama and released in 2020. The film features Jyothika in the protagonist’s role, and deals with sensitive issues like murder and child sexual abuse while also addressing the chauvinism and patriarchal structure.

Reportedly, this film helped a nine year old survivor open up about her sexual assault by a 48 year old relative. This has led to the Madras High Court sentencing him to five years in prison.

Jyothika took to Instagram to share the story along with the caption “Shatter that Silence! Each time a woman stands up for herself, unknowingly she stands up for all women”.

How women centric films are changing the way we look at women

In today’s world, media, especially movies, play a huge role in influencing our culture and overall perception. Women’s screen time as well as the roles they play has serious impact on the minds of their audience especially young girls.

Movies like Fire and Earth by Deepa Mehta and commercial hits like English Vinglish and Gully Boy represent women and their issues in much nuanced way.

NH10, Tumhari Sulu, Neerja, Parched, Queen and Kahani deserve special mention.

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Pink, starring Tapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang, talks about consent at length with “No means No” being its highlight while Lipstick Under My Burkha showcased the taboo on female sexuality and the politics of its subjugation in the rawest form.

All these films and many other have helped in starting a dialogue around not just women’s issues, roles and sexism in the film industry but also in the society as a whole.

On the other hand, we also have films like Kabir Singh that singlehandedly set the society back by a century.

With rising cases of child sexual abuse India leads the way with maximum number of child assault cases recorded. Here, one minor is raped every 155 minutes with the accused being an acquaintance in 90% of cases, reports suggest. In such a heart wrenching scenario, movies like Ponmagal Vandhal provides us, survivors, with a ray of hope in the form of film. It gives us courage to speak out against our abusers, and about the trauma faced by us. Needless to say, India is in dire and desperate need for more films like this.

Image source: a still from Ponmagal Vandhal

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