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Riva Arora Is 12 And Should Be In School: NOT Paired With Adult Men For The Male Gaze!

Born on February 1st, 2010 according to sources easily available, she was 7 in Sridevi's Mom (2017), and 9 in Uri (2020). How is she being paired with adult men?

Trigger Warning: This deals with exploitation of children bordering on child sexual abuse and can be triggering for survivors.

As I scroll through Instagram, a reel pops up from the recommendations. It is not an account I follow, but it shows a familiar face – Karan Kundra. Next to him is a girl who looks much younger. The reel is from the girl’s Instagram page – Riva Arora.

I click on her profile to see that she is a child actor. According to IMDB, her DOB is February 1, 2010, meaning she is only 12 years old!

A simple Google search for Riva Arora threw up this information on IMDb.

That jolted me, as the video was normalizing sexualisation and exploitation of a child, by pairing a 37-year-old man with a 12-year-old girl who isn’t cast as a child, but an adult woman! It was shocking that Karan Kundra did not have any problems being paired in a music video with a minor, someone young enough to be his child.

Who is Riva Arora?

Riva has been part of several films as a child actor. Some of her popular works include Uri: The Surgical Strike (in which she was 9), Mom, starring Sridevi (in which she was 7), and Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl (in which she was 10), to name a few. In Uri, she was only 9 years old, playing the memorable role of Suhaani.

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7 year old Riva Arora with Sridevi in Mom (2017)

10 year old Riva Arora in Uri: The Surgical Strike in 2020

Why is Riva being made to act like an adult woman in her reels, barely 3 years later, when she is still a child? It is obvious that the child has been coached and groomed to make videos and pose for photographs that appear sexually suggestive.

12 year old Riva Arora paired opposite much older men

This Reddit thread we found brought up further problematic aspects of Riva Arora’s work. Fans commenting on this thread have alleged that Riva is being subjected to hormonal treatment as well as breast augmentation to deliberately make her look older.

Screenshot from this Reddit thread

Of course, this is hearsay, but it needs to be mentioned in this context.

Where is her father in all this, one may wonder, as he should be equally responsible for all of this. Digging into it, we came across this video that was shared on Riva’s Facebook page on Father’s Day in 2021, in which she says that her father is no more and she misses him a lot.

Bollywood’s sexist ageism sends out the message that ‘earlier is better’ for women

The user base of Instagram has grown steadily, with influencers being the new category of social media celebrities. The very term “influencer” suggests how these people can lead their followers to mimic them and make similar choices. Sexualized content featuring a 12 year old can influence many other teen girls who may be her followers and mimic her.

It is also more challenging to keep such content away from Instagram, as the “community guidelines” that define what is allowed on the platform are not foolproof.

Riva Arora has 800k subscribers on Youtube, 8.2 million followers on Instagram, and 75k followers on Facebook. This triggers the question of who consumes such content. Who are the audiences that are willing to witness the perversion of a preteen girl dressed in a revealing saree, dancing to songs that are filled with double innuendos? Isn’t it imperative to also question this, as we should also hold the system responsible for influencing the kind of content we see on our screens?

The average age of female actors in Bollywood has steadily declined over the past few years. Even as we see established actors in their 40s continue to play college students, the female actors who played their romantic leads are now only being offered older roles. We see male ‘superstars’ in their 40s and 50s serenade women who are in their early 20s.

When male actors, producers, and directors partake in the trend of lowering the age of female leads in their movies, they are actively influencing the industry to ‘keep up with the trend’. These people of power are also responsible for the sexualization of young girls like Riva. They show these girls that their only way into the film industry is through their bodies. They send out the message that ‘earlier is better’. These men need to be held just as responsible for shaping the trends of women in cinema.

In the case of child actor Hansika Motwani, she was only 15 years old when she debuted as a female lead opposite 25-year-old Allu Arjun in the Telugu film Desamuduru. It is sickening to imagine what would ensue if this was allowed to continue without questioning.

Would we allow minor girls in real life to be allured by men who are much older? What makes this idea any less disturbing on screen?

Child laws governing the entertainment industry are inadequate

When we take a look at what laws are in place to ensure the protection of child actors, it has clearly failed to stay updated to keep up with the digital era.

Children are not allowed to work continuously in shoots for more than 27 days, but what about the ‘work’ that is extracted from them for social media? Reels, photoshoots, and self-promotional content may not be part of the ‘work’ that the child does for someone else, but it still robs them of their childhood time.

Riva cannot be blamed, no matter how ‘happy’ she seems

Some comments on the Reddit thread mentioned earlier seemed to place blame on Riva, pointing out that the girl seemed to enjoy the limelight and attention she received through social media. There are also some comments that Riva seems to be fully aware of what she was doing, based on her reels and YouTube channel videos. This sickening argument does not hold any logic for two reasons.

One, Riva is a 12-year-old who cannot completely understand the consequences of what she is being put through. If the discussion on her possibly being given hormones turns out to be fact, she isn’t old enough to be expected to understand that hormonal injections carry their own risks and long-term health implications.

Second, children like Riva are unaware of the psychological implications when they are subjected to sexualization and exposed to predatory men in the industry. How can they even be held to the responsibility of consenting to this portrayal in the eyes of the media?

Hold the men, inadequate laws, and legal guardians accountable

When I see Riva Arora, I see a child robbed of her childhood. I see a child systemically exploited, without any knowledge of her exploitation. I see how the male gaze has sickeningly contributed to the sexualization of a pre-teen who should be nowhere near the creeps who are standing next to her, pretending to be her romantic interests.

It is time we call out these men who partake in this normalization of sexualisation and pedophilia in the name of entertainment. Let us raise our voices loud enough for authorities to realize that there is a young girl who is being put at risk, and shamelessly exploited by the system that should be protecting her. Let us demand that our laws are made stronger, without little girls like Riva being preyed upon by voyeuristic eyes.

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About the Author

Jayashree Ravi

An engineer turned SAHM of two who wants to be known beyond that. Passionate about words, parenting, making eco-friendly choices, feminism and lifelong learning. read more...

23 Posts | 9,201 Views

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