Roshni’s post, Sexual abuse and the girl child: an Indian context, scared me while I read it during lunch today and I couldn’t do much except call up my mom and speak with her for a while, just to feel comfortable. Honestly, I wasn’t fine till I reached back and hugged my babies tight. Wish I could keep them like that forever, like a duck protects its brood from predators. I am sure it is the same with mothers of either boys or girls. All are equally prone to such incidents. While I write this sitting besides my girls, all I am able to do is just pray for the safety and well-being of all kids. I am still getting goosebumps at the mere thought of it.
The post, reminded me of my mom’s words. This dates back to those days when I had just delivered my first girl and was searching for a help, my Mom strongly said that I shouldn’t look for a full-time domestic help. I didn’t understand then as to why she had such an opinion about this domestic help thing. In fact, I was feeling bad that on one hand she cannot help me look after my child because she is working, on the other hand she is creating more trouble for me by asking me not to keep a domestic help. In my anger, I even said, “Fine. I will leave the job to take care of the child. If that’s what all of you want.” At this she again said, “You should never leave your job unless there’s no other option available.
I could never comprehend the message that she wanted to convey until I read this post.
I have had to leave my kids at the mercy of innumerable domestic helps because I chose not to leave my job. A decision which at times I regret, but most of the times, I feel glad I didn’t decide against it. Thankfully, we have had some real good part-time helps, who helped me through the tough initial parenting years. I left my first-born with the help (a 19 year old girl; part-time help) when she was just about 5 months and the second one when she was just about 4 months old. I must admit that without their help, it would have been really impossible for me to take care of the kids. We used to drop them off along with the maid at my parents’ place, because Mom used to be back home in the afternoon and also our neighborhood aunt was a real big help. She used to keep a watch and I could call her and ask for help any time I needed.
Here are some snippets from In Her Own Voice, a blog space which is developed with the mere intent of educating parents as well as children about child abuse and sexual abuse. Many of the children or the parents are actually unaware about what particular acts are termed as an abuse. The lack of awareness too leads to such unhealthy incidents. These are stories from real life from woman across the globe, who have shared their personal experiences. Even I was taken aback reading some of those incidents. In most of the cases, the abuse was through a known person, most likely a relative of the child. If any of you wishes to share your stories anonymously, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sharing your experiences might save someone, somewhere.
“…the old man was waving at me with guavas in both his hands. He asked me to come and take them. All excited I entered his house and walked towards the stairway. As soon as I reached and was about to climb, I saw the man coming down. The moment we were right in front of each other he gave me the fruits and smiled at me. At the same time – now that his hands were free – he used both of them to touch my chest and nipples. “ “…she went to an old couple’s house in the neighborhood, and how the old man made her sit inside his quilt, and handed his reproductive organ in her hand.” “While fast asleep in our bedroom, I got startled by the touch of a hand near my thighs along with the sound of laughter. I still do not know how and why, but I ran into the washroom and locked the door from inside. Sheer luck it may have been. My cousin, along with two or three of his friends, was there in the room.”
These are incidents that a child under the age of 10 has gone through. Imagine his/her plight.
These are some cases that most of the families, do not take seriously. As a matter of fact, they might not even be knowing that such a thing has happened within the four walls of their houses. The children who have undergone it at such tender ages, might have been so scared and shocked to even share such a thing happened.
This is where parental indulgence is required. Be a friend first and a parent later. Try and educate your little ones with as much ease as possible about the possible threats that they may face and how to overcome or handle such a situation. Have a friendly atmosphere at home and it will be good to have a regular friendly chat with the children once he/she is back from school.
Most of all, it will be good to not leave the children unattended with anybody, including friends and family members.
No child should ever go through such an ordeal as it effects the personality to a large extent. Speaking out is extremely necessary. Have such a relationship with your child that he/she isn’t scared of sharing with you anything at all.
The following video has some tips on how to counsel the child about preventing child abuse.
This post is in collaboration with Protsaahan and UNICEF India‘s Time to sound the Red Siren campaign. Sexual abuse cuts across class, ethnicity, religion and origin. Millions of girls in India face obstacles in their lives, experiencing various forms of discrimination, exploitation and abuse on account of their age and their sex. Each year, an increasing number of children in India face sexual violence. Recently, there have been cases of rape that have galvanized global attention and sparked mass demonstrations and widespread debate on the issue of sexual violence directed at children. However, there are many cases that go under reported. Fear of social stigma and victimization often stop children and their families from reporting these crimes. Since much abuse is hidden from public view – and because it is too often tolerated – the numbers do not reflect the true magnitude of the problem. When violence occurs, the physical wounds or bruises may disappear but the mental scars may not. Please click here to learn more about the UNICEF campaign and to spread the word to #ENDViolence.