Radhika (11) and Rajani (7) were on a 10-day vacation to their maternal aunt Bhavani’s place in Pune. Bhavani Chitta’s husband Magesh was a senior supervisor in an automobile manufacturing plant. Thus they were staying inside the plant in the official accommodation provided to them. Aditya was their two-year old son. Radhika and Rajani had a wonderful time playing with their young brother.
Magesh was a very religious man and one would always find him reciting shlokas if he is not in his office. A sandalwood tilaka with a kumkum dot in the center of his forehead was one of his traits. He was very helpful to one and all and thus people respected him a lot.
One of those nights, Radhika and Rajani were fast asleep on a mat on the drawing room floor. Radhika felt a touch on her leg which slowly moved upwards. It then pulled her skirt up and reached her thighs. This was it. She knew this was getting dirty. She pulled her skirt down and moved a bit making the man know that she was half awake. His hands then went onto Rajani’s leg and same thing started happening. Radhika who was aware that it was Magesh was now scared for her little sister. She sat up and asked, “Chittappa, why are you not sleeping? If Chitta is awake we want to go and sleep with her. It is scary here.” She didn’t know from where she gathered the courage to say that much. Magesh without saying anything, went out of the room and Radhika bolted the door. As soon as she sat down, Rajani hugged her and started weeping. “Akka, I was scared. Chittappa is bad. He is very bad.”
They were to stay for a few more days with their uncle and aunt before they could go back to their parents. Telephone was available but Chitta was always around and for some reason Radhika was not interested in informing Chitta. She just told Chitta that they were scared to sleep alone and that they wanted to sleep with her in her room. Chitta agreed. The next few days in that house seemed the most torturous for those little souls.
Once home, though they wanted to tell their parents about what had happened, they did not. They only spoke about it between themselves and they found solace in each other without disturbing the existing relationship between the families. After that incident there were many occasions when they had to face Magesh. The girls stood together and ignored him as best as possible. But Magesh by now had gained more confidence knowing very well that the girls had not disclosed the incident to anyone. There were a few more attempts made by him, but the girls escaped with each other’s help.
During her college years Radhika experienced an eve-teasing incident which happened in front of their mother Vaidehi. While Vaidehi was telling Radhika and Rajani how to deal with such incidents and how to inform concerned people about it, Radhika informed her mother about the childhood incident in Pune in the presence of Rajani. Vaidehi immediately rubbished them saying it was just a figment of their imagination and that Magesh could never do something like that. She went on to tell the kids that he would have just tried to give them a slight massage. She also told them that it was a sin to blame innocent God-fearing people.
This was a fictional account to explain issues related to Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).
A few questions:
- Do you think what Radhika did was the best in her capacity?
- Do you blame Radhika and Rajani for not raising an alarm?
- Do you blame Radhika and Rajani for not telling their mother the details well on time?
- What according to you was Vaidehi supposed to do once she was informed?
- Was Vaidehi’s stand right?
1 out of 7 children are abused. How many do you know?
1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
One out of every three girls will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18.
A third of sexually abused children are keeping a family secret.
Child Sexual Abuse is hard to talk about for little children. Most children won’t. So we have to.
First and foremost, be a good listener. Let the child know that you trust him/her and that they are your priority. Help the child communicate with you with ease and trust. The child needs to be told that in case any such thing happens, it is not their fault. They don’t have to feel bad or dirty or sinful. It is the abuser who is wrong and who should be punished. Support them to overcome the grief and get over the incident. Remember CSA has long term affects on the personality of a child.
Tell you child that anything that anyone tells them or does to them saying they should not inform their parents is something that they must inform immediately.
Here is a list of things you need to teach your child(ren) at early age:
- Warn your girl child never to sit on anyone’s laps no matter the situation including uncles.
- Avoid getting dressed in front of your child once he/she is 2 years old. Learn to excuse them or yourself.
- Never allow any adult refer to your child as ‘my wife’ or ‘my husband’
- Whenever your child goes out to play with friends make sure you look for a way to find out what kind of play they do, because young people now sexually abuse themselves.
- Never force your child to visit any adult he or she is not comfortable with and also be observant if your child becomes too fond of a particular adult.
- Once a very lively child suddenly becomes withdrawn you may need to patiently ask lots of questions from your child.
- Carefully educate your grown-ups about the right values of sex . If you don’t, the society will teach them the wrong values.
- It is always advisable you go through any new Material like cartoons you just bought for them before they start seeing it themselves.
- Ensure you activate parental controls on your cable networks and advice your friends especially those your child(ren) visit(s) often.
- Teach your 3-year old how to wash their private parts properly and warn them never to allow anyone touch those areas and that includes you (remember, charity begins from home
and with you).
- Blacklist some materials/associates you think could threaten the sanity of your child (this includes music, movies and even friends and families).
- Let your child(ren) understand the value of standing out of the crowd.
- Once your child complains about a particular person, don’t keep quiet about it. Take up the case and show them you can defend them.
- Show them this following animated film ‘KOMAL‘ (an initiative by Child Line), which explains Safe Touch and Unsafe Touch in an easy to understand manner.
It only takes one question, one conversation, one moment to make a positive change in the life of a sexually abused child. Know the signs (Child Sexual Abuse Warning signs). Ask questions. Get help.