The thought-provoking cover page of Bitter Chocolate is just the beginning to a path-breaking book which serves to shatter the “conspiracy of silence” around Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and attempts to give the traumatised child a voice. In fact, Pinki Virani narrates her experience of sexual abuse during her childhood and its aftermath in this book.
While analysing the roots of the problem of sexual abuse, she makes a very interesting observation. Nowadays, increasingly, young children are encouraged to emulate adults and are made to mimic adult objects of desire. This is objectionable to Virani because “it normalizes a particular way of looking at young girls…that shares in common with pornography, namely, the girl as an object of gaze for the voyeur and not as a person.”
A documentation of the sexual abuse perpetrated on children, this book serves to shatter the complacency surrounding family life. The usual equivocatory questions are spelled out clearly which leaves no room for ambiguity and ignorance. An extremely hard-hitting text, it gives a detailed account of the experience of sexual abuse of children in a straightforward manner, completely devoid of self-pity.
Virani’s credit lies in the fact that apart from discussing the problem of child sexual abuse, she provides pragmatic solutions to prevent sexual abuse and also talks of other aspects which has precipitated this issue. “Virtue cannot reside only in a woman’s vagina, it can well be in a male body. Virtue…is an internal state, virginity is a choice and the vagina is an anatomical structure.” These are subjects that are considered to be taboos and therefore, are left unaddressed. But the book clearly mentions that only after such matters are clarified can we expect any resolution to the problem of Child Sexual Abuse.
This book is an eye-opener to people who believe in the sacrosanctity of a family. Most of the perpetrators of this crime are members of the same family. These people have an advantage over outsiders since they have the trust of the child whom they violate under the veneer of a loving and caring relative.
Bitter Chocolate also discloses the fact that sexual abuse is no longer about inequality of gender. It is about the inequality of power since the numbers of little boys who have been violated are also increasing in number. The supposed number of boys and girls who might have been abused by 2002 are 4,15,94,735 and 6,28,53,160 respectively. These numbers are an attempt to sensitize the masses and bring them out of their lethargy to see and accept the predicament which is rampant in our society.
This well-researched book is written in an absolutely blunt and unsparing fashion which and leaves no stone unturned to strike at the perpetrators of CSA. Pinki Virani, in my opinion, succeeds in her attempt to create awareness and educate parents, teachers and guardians about this issue.
I was stunned on reading this book. Although I was aware of child sexual abuse, I was ignorant about the actual statistics. Media has the responsibility of bringing to light such issues which haunt the society like nightmares and this account for its relevancy to media studies.