Child Sexual Abuse And The Deafening Silence Around It
Very recently I was watching a short film on YouTube, “Dumb Charades”. At first, I thought it would be a general video of a child acting to some movie or idiom in front of his parents. Touched by the innocence I kept on watching, trying to understand the name of the movie along with his parents. But, what was revealed at the end of the video shook me to the core. I didn’t expect this message from the film.
When I googled, “Child Sexual Abuse in India”, I found a few blazing headlines. They were- ‘Teenager raped 18 month old in Kolkata’, ‘60 year old accused of raping her own niece’ and so on. What have we come to? And, where are we heading to?
There are many dark things in the society which we constantly try to sweep under the rug. But we deny to believe that by not talking about such things, we only support it. Some people believe that only girls are affected by this while others believe that education or income provides insurance against child abuse. Before you believe it to be true, consider these facts: one out of every two children in India is sexually abused, most never report it and 52% of the victims are boys.
In majority of the cases, the abuser is a part of the family. He can be the uncle, the cook who has been around for a long time, older cousin, tuition teacher and sometimes even the family priest. We can teach our children to stay away from strangers but how to tell them when the abuser is a part of the house?
Whenever such an incident happens and your child reports it to you, don’t think that the child is lying to you. Understand the fact that it takes a lot of courage to tell this to you. So, trust them. That is the least you can do. Child abuse is largely preventable but the burden of prevention has rested for too long on our children’s fragile shoulders. It's high time now that we take the charge of prevention by talking about sexual abuse to our children early and often. Sometimes, it's even possible that the victim doesn't know that he is sexually abused until he comes of age to realise that it was sexually explicit and he suffered for so long. Talking to children about body parts and inappropriate touching is an important step to make them understand abuse. Also, we need to break the taboo around sex and talk about it to our children openly.
We often teach our kids to show respect to elders but we never teach them what to do if the elders don't replicate in a similar way. We never talk anything about sexual abuse. Let’s teach them to stay aware. Let’s teach them to react and unfreeze their minds in such situations. Let’s create an environment so that they can be our friends and express all that they feel. Let’s be their true GUARDIANS.