The Kathua and Unnao rapes have sparked outrage across the nation. Several celebrities, too, have come out in support of the victims and have condemned the incidents.
Actor Nivetha Pethuraj, who is known for films like Oru Naal Koothu and Mental Madhilo, has joined the clamour of voices asking for women's safety and security. The actor put up three Facebook videos in which she spoke about child sexual abuse and the need for parents to be aware about it.
Revealing that she too had been sexually harassed when she was five years of age, Nivetha pointed out that the perpetrators of such crimes were mostly men who were known to the family.
"There are many problems confronting our country today. But there are only a few problems that we can do something about. One of these is women's safety. The reason why I'm putting up this video...and many women and men who are watching this video...would have been sexually harassed when they were children....including me. How was I to tell something that happened in my childhood, when I was around five years old, to Amma and Appa? I didn't even know what happened at the time," she says.
She goes on to add, "Such harassment doesn't usually happen with strangers. It happens with relatives, friends, neighbours...that's where it happens more. I'm requesting parents to be more responsible. I know it will be very, very uncomfortable, but please sit your kids down and talk to them about it."
Nivetha says that it's essential for parents to speak to their kids about child sexual abuse from the age of two.
"Talk to them about what's an unsafe way to speak or touch. Start telling them from age two itself. Because you never know when they may have to go through this pain and all these things. We don't know what's happening in school, in your neighbour's house or in tuition class..." she says.
Nivetha also went on to say that the police can do only so much to help and that as a society, we must be more vigilant. Calling on her male friends to become more aware of their surroundings and take up the responsibility of watching out for harassers on the street, Nivetha said, "Form a community group of 8-10 people and take turns in pairs to observe what's happening from morning to night in your streets. It's easy for you to find out if anything shady is going on. You can question it easily."
The actor further added that she felt very afraid to step out and was looking at everyone with suspicion.