Bhavana Menon is a popular Indian actress who predominantly appeared in Malayalam, Kannada and Tamil films. In a recent Instagram post, she mentions about how she was abducted and sexually assaulted in 2017. After five years, she broke silence describing her difficult journey from being a victim to a survivor.
Bhavana was assaulted by a group of men while travelling from Thrissur to Kochi to dub for a film. Attackers made video of her assault when she was kidnapped.
Her assault made headlines, especially after Dileep, one of the Malayalam-language film industry’s biggest actors and Menon’s co-star in half a dozen films, was named as an accused and charged with criminal conspiracy. He denied the charges against him, but was arrested and held in custody for three months before being released on bail. The case is being heard in a trial court.
Considering her – and Dileep’s – celebrity status, there was tremendous media attention on the case and on any given day, local news channels invited panellists to speak for and against her.
Many took to victim shaming on social media – they asked why she was travelling at 7pm and questioned her morality, some abused her and some said the case was all made up, that she had “staged it”.
“I was devastated, broken into a million pieces, all these things were very hurtful to me. I sometimes wanted to scream at the top of my lungs,” she told Indian digital platform Mojo Story. “My dignity was snatched and then I was victim shamed.”
“I was an established actress and the initial reports only said I was kidnapped, so some of the TV channels showed my photographs. Once the details of the sexual assault became known, they removed my name and photos, but by then everyone knew it was me.”
Taking to Instagram, she wrote: