Kerala

Documentary on sexual violence traces a gritty battle for survival

Beating all odds: A scene from My Story is Your Story.

Beating all odds: A scene from My Story is Your Story.  

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Survivor P.P. Rahanas makes clear her determination to be known by her real name

“I am Rahanas. This is my story. Society should accept me as I am. I want to be known by my real name. Not by a false name or by the name of the place of assault.” These are the words of P.P. Rahanas, a survivor of sexual violence, on whom is based My Story is Your Story, a 45-minute documentary by Leena Manimekalai. It was the first public screening of the documentary here on Friday.

Rahanas, now a law graduate and a volunteer at the Nirbhaya legal cell, Government of Kerala, herself was present to narrate her story.

It traces the struggles of Rahanas, who survived sexual violence as a minor by her father, and portrays her triumph over her tragic past. The narrative comprises testimonies by Rahanas, her mother, her siblings, her father, who is a convict in the Kannur jail now, activists, lawyers and all the key people who lent their shoulders to her fight.

Her father, an alcoholic and small-time announcer, started abusing her at the age of 12. Later, he started to trade her to other people for money to buy liquor.

With head held high

In the beginning of the documentary itself she says, “I am not comfortable with masking my face. It is not us, but the abusers who should shy away. We should live with our heads held high.”

The role of the government of Kerala in her case is crucial. She was provided legal help, a safe shelter, psychosocial care, and a support system to continue her studies. The film highlights the role of State as a parent of the victim, said Ms. Manimekalai.

“Rahanas is a willing contributor of her life story and that gives the film a lot of room to reflect on her internal battles. The film ponders on why she decided to speak up and chose to fight on,” said Ms. Manimekalai.

“If at least one survivor gets inspired by my story I will be happy. I want to live in the moment without being bothered about the past or the future,” she told the packed audience at the Thrissur Press Club hall, where the film was screened in connection with the State conference of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists.

Without fear

The film was made with the support of Women and Child Development Department of the Kerala government.

“I dream of young girls living without fear, without losing identity. A generation of women leaders, who can inspire. I think I am the beginning of that new generation,” said the lawyer, who now aspires to pursue Civil Services.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 5:01:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/documentary-traces-a-gritty-battle-for-survival/article30223639.ece

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