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Someone had to break the silence: Payal Shah Karwa

In her book, The Bad Touch, author Payal Shah Karwa speaks to victims of child sex abuse and hopes to raise awareness on the subject

In 2006, Payal Shah Karwa worked with Harish Iyer, a socio-cultural and environmental activist. As friends, they shared incidents from their lives with each other and one day, Iyer asked her to watch his interview on a TV show, where Iyer first reveals about being sexually abused by his uncle for 11 years till he turned 18. “I was shaken up. and shocked somebody could do that to a child,” says the 35-year-old who runs the Word Jockey Creative Content Studio, a content and communications consultancy. 

On hearing Iyer’s story, Karwa looked up the Internet to know more about Child Sex Abuse (CSA). The incident remained etched in her mind.

Payal Shah Karwa took four years to write the book, The Bad Touch. pic for representation purpose only
Payal Shah Karwa took four years to write the book, The Bad Touch. pic for representation purpose only

Three years on, Karwa’s dream to write a book surfaced. “I was looking for a subject that would be a valuable contribution to the society. That was when the topic of child sex abuse came to my mind — a topic which society choses to hush up. Someone had to break the silence,” says Karwa, who approached Iyer to share his story, which appears as the key narrations in the book. Iyer’s story was even featured in Aamir Khan’s talk show Satyamev Jayate during an episode on child sex abuse.

Thus began a four-year journey of researching on CSA and case studies. “I wanted to highlight the victims as victors, who faced the darkest hour but didn’t give up hope. They triumphed in the end by speaking up,” says Karwa, who spoke to adults, who have been victims of CSA, for her book.

Payal Shah Karwa
Payal Shah Karwa

“I spread the word among friends, and got in touch with friends of friends who had suffered from CSA in their growing years. While some were open to meet and pour their hearts out, some preferred to remain anonymous and spoke to me over the phone. In the beginning, it was traumatising, but I braced myself and decided to keep my emotions in check,” says Karwa.

To ensure the book was informative, Karwa tied up with Arpan, an NGO that works towards the upliftment of CSA victims. “They supported my project and shared facts and technical figures with me,” says Karwa who took three years to write the book.

The road ahead
The book is only a part of the mission, says Karwa. To spread awareness, she began a social media campaign on the Facebook page of her book, The Bad Touch. “Here, I update facts, figures and informative posts on child sex abuse and share tips on the ‘safe and unsafe touch’ for parents to teach their children,” says Karwa, who has conducted workshops with corporates to spread awareness among young parents, along with Arpan volunteers. “Participants have come ahead and shared their experiences, and the entire process has been heartwarming,” she says.

The Bad Touch

The Bad Touch
Published by Hay House India
Price: Rs 300

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