Neha Dhupia’s views on sexual abuse border on victim blaming – and that’s not okay

Written by Tasneem Khan

Bollywood star Neha Dhupia has a (startling) message for victims of sexual abuse and people who keep sexual predators a secret… and it’s not pretty.

According to Hindustan Times, the star feels the ills in the film industry must be exposed, by victims and witnesses.

“Staying quiet about sexual abuse is not brave, coming out and talking about it is. And I’m not going to protect the business by saying [sexual abuse] does not happen. I’m sure it happens. Let’s not kid ourselves, it happens everywhere,” said the star.

However, Neha fails to take into consideration that speaking out about sexual abuse is a challenging, taxing and daunting task. The victim is not only dealing with the trauma of the incident and fighting inhibitions but is also facing the fear and threat of the violator – let alone having to cope with the repercussions after exposing the predator.

She almost redeems herself by acknowledging the victim’s dread of tarnishing their reputation lest they expose the violator…

“There’s a constant fear among actors to save their reputation, [and that of] their parents and families, so they don’t talk about the sexual abuse they might have seen or faced in the industry. Also, they may feel that it’s going to become ugly.”

However, it only goes downhill from there as Neha ends up victim blaming the abused instead for staying silent on the matter and allowing the predator to prey on others.

“Because that man, if he has done that to you right now, he’s probably going to do that to somebody else, again. So, by talking about it, you’re not just protecting yourself but everyone else around you, too.”

The actor expressed that she has never dealt with sexual abuse during her career, but her statement ends up sounding haughty and indirectly hint at the victim not being careful or cautious enough – in other words, saying they called it upon themselves. When in reality sexual abuse can happen anytime, anywhere and to anybody.

“I’ve never felt exploited, and I feel blessed. But at the same time, maybe it’s because of the person I am. I’m really particular about how meetings are done, what the system is.”

But Neha should be given the benefit of the doubt as she understands the extent of exploitation in the entertainment industry and how the newcomers are naive, desperately looking for work.

“There’s a lack of an ecosystem in the business when it comes to managers and how things are done. A lot of times, when these new actors get a call, they’re tempted to go and do meetings, and it’s not their fault, at all. They think they’re doing the right thing, but then, there are obnoxious people who take advantage of the fact that a boy or girl is just here in the business or here in a city like Mumbai to work.”

For next time though, Neha, it is easier said than done

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Tasneem Khan

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