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Priya Motiani


Victims Of Sexual Violence Find Solace In Indian Classical Dance Forms

  • JWB Post
  •  February 27, 2016


There’s nothing denying the fact that the classical Indian dance forms ooze out grace and magnificence in volumes. But did you know that they also possess healing powers? And these healing powers can be very well deployed towards comforting victims of sexual assault and human trafficking.

A recent pilot study shows that Indian classical dances help to ease anxiety, depression, anger, and post-traumatic stress, which are by and large the repercussions of these heinous crimes.

“Often, in the rehabilitation of victims of trafficking and sexual violence, the impact on the body can be overlooked. Dance is about the body, and the women are somewhat familiar with these dance forms, so we can help them heal and create a more positive body image,” Sohini Chakraborty, the founder and director of Kolkata Sanved – the charity which carried out the research, said.

The effects of sexual violence are far-reaching. They do not disturb just the physical state of the victim, but the psychological state as well. And in the context of our country, the latter is affected all the more, because women in our society are expected to keep mum about the whole affair.

“Indian dance forms are uniquely suited to therapy. Kathak can help release anger while the elaborate hand and eye movements in Bharatnatyam from Tamil Nadu can help express a range of emotions. Folk dances can also encourage bonding,” she added.

What’s more? The charity also runs a programme called – Kolkata Sanved’s Saving Lives Through Dance programme – which aims at alleviating the children living in red light areas from the shackles of their lives.

“Kolkata Sanved’s dance movement therapy module is particularly suited to the Indian context. It’s a non-judgmental, non-hierarchical therapy for these women who may otherwise be hesitant to express themselves. We already knew instinctively that dance had therapeutic effects, but now we know for certain that it does indeed work,” said Dr Upali Dasgupta, principal researcher on the study.

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