Usha
One advantage I had with my French teachers was that many of them were closer to my age and we developed a bond as friends outside the teacher -student equation. One of my teachers used to come from a residential school outside the city and I used to pick her up halfway and the drive to and from the Alliance Francaise used to give us a lot of time to discuss issues as parents and she also brought in her perspective as a teacher.
Once we were discussing child abuse and I spoke about it as if it was a western problem and we in India, of course had no such problems. Then she told me how rampant it is in India and even in rural India. She told me of an instance where one of her students, an eighth grader, used to be very happy in school and reluctant to go back home on vacations. And whenever she came back from vacation she was always moody, quiet and upset. So once C, my teacher decided to talk to her and after much coaxing the girl revealed that she was being sexually abused by her father's brother and she was scared to talk about it to anyone in her family as he was respected by everyone in the family. C was furious and she summoned the parents and told them what the girl had revealed to her.
Now here comes the part that makes my blood boil. The parents refused to believe it and called the girl a liar and attention seeker. They labelled the girl difficult and were furious that she would come up with something so perverse about someone who was like a father to her! And they were angry that the girl was ruining the family's reputation. This is what happened when you sent girls to such fancy schools, they said!
The girl went back home at the end of term and never returned to school. They took her out of the school.

I wonder how many young girls are being assaulted with the connivance of the family and the fact suppressed in the name of family honour. I hope not many but when have hopes been true in such matters! And this is the country where parents do not want sex education in schools as they feel the child's innocence will be lost.Perhaps they feel it is better for their girls and boys to learn it in this way from perverse uncles and servants and god knows who else.

And the statistics are scary. As The Rational Fool says in his comment:
Usha, I thought that you and the readers would be familar with the study on Child Abuse INDIA 2007, sponsored by the Ministry of Women and Child Development Government of India. Here I quote some relevant findings on sexual abuse from a survey of 13 states with a sample size of 12447 children, 2324 young adults and 2449 stakeholders:

1. 53.22% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.
2. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls.
3. 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse.
4. Out of the child respondents, 5.69% reported being sexually assaulted.
5. Children in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
6. Children on street, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
7. 50% abuses are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.
8. Most children did not report the matter to anyone.


And those of you who are parents, teach them about "good touch" and Bad touch". Answer their questions scientifically and truthfully. please give your child the benefit of doubt, whoever it is that he/she is accusing. There is no family "honour" at the expense of of the crushing of a child's soul and having her scarred for life.
Speak up - against these wherever you find them!

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On a related note, it takes tremendous courage and a lot of support for the victim to stand up and make the issue public and seek redressal. It need not always be physical - it could be innuendos, sexist remarks or anything that offends one's dignity as a woman. There is nothing that needs to be treated as a a joke and tolerated. if you find it offensive and uncomfortable you do not have to put up with it. I do not know how many working women are suffering in silence as they do not know where to turn for justice. I am proud to direct you to a fellow blogger who has set an example herself and also gives you information on your rights at the workplace and what you can do against gender discrimination and abuse at work place.
Please stand up for your rights and your dignity - if you don't you are not only suffering in silence but you are colluding in a perverse crime and perpetuating it. This is your duty to yourself and other women.
Speak up!
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20 Responses
  1. Chitra Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Chitra Says:

    Good topic, especially since Indians seem to think that most of the "spoken" issues are western issues. Just because they talk about it doesn't make it just their issues alone. I have come to believe that almost all the issues are universal. There was this one time when a bunch of us were discussing about 'depression', and this was an Indian crowd in the US. There was this Indian girl who actually thought depression was an American issue! Not talking about it makes it horrible for the society as a whole.

    I feel terrible for the said girl whose parents didn't stand by her. If your own parents do not stand by you, who else will? I think, as mothers, we have to ALWAYS be watchful for potential abuse/abusers of any sort. And definitely talk to the kids early and keep them prepared - no, not turn them paranoid, but definitely teach them to be cautious and if there is a sibling to watch out for each other. At least, that's what I am planning. I already caution my 4 yr old girl subtly about many things. And definitely train the kids in martial arts of some form! :)


  3. A very good observation that Indians tend to turn a blind eye towards things happening in India. A few years ago, people in India claimed that "gay" people were not there in India and obviously, as long as fools like the parents you mentioned are there, there is no salvation from these social-ills!


  4. rads Says:

    Usha, there are tons of us girls who are abused primarily by a family member.
    Seriously, off the top of my head I know 6 of us, and at least a dozen 'creepy' uncles.

    It's rampant alright. It's sickeningly rampant.


  5. Usha, I thought that you and the readers would be familar with the
    Study on Child Abuse INDIA 2007, sponsored by the Ministry of Women and Child Development Government of India. Here I quote some relevant findings on sexual abuse from a survey of 13 states with a sample size of 12447 children, 2324 young adults and 2449 stakeholders:

    1. 53.22% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.
    2. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls.
    3. 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse.
    4. Out of the child respondents, 5.69% reported being sexually assaulted.
    5. Children in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
    6. Children on street, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
    7. 50% abuses are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.
    8. Most children did not report the matter to anyone.

    Yes, please speak up on matters of infringement on your rights, be they sexual abuse, sexual harassment, forced abortion, etc.


  6. Usha Says:

    Chitra:
    Ya, we like to believe all bad things are happening "ou there" and not "here". Acknowledging that a problem exists is already half way towards solving it.

    Karthik: I think we need to make the parents know that covering up the crime does not preserve any honour. and we can stop it only when the offender is punished.

    Rads:SCARY!

    The RF:Thank you. Added to the main post assuming your permission.:)


  7. Hip Grandma Says:

    The picture is gloomy in India as elsewhere.We have an example in Jamshedpur when example in Jamshedpur when a 13 year old narrated her side of the story involving her maternal uncle,his friend to a lady police officer.The men were arrested and our mahila samity took up for the culprits and discarded the girl's story as teenage fantasy.The men could not be convicted for lack of evidence.The girl's mami and grandmother also rubbished the story and her father declared that his daughter was crazy.Family honor,the community's reputation and a host of other reasons play a part in deciding the case.My qn is even if it was only an extension of the child's imagination,why didn't the dealing official get a psychiatrist to evaluate the girl's mental status.We have no record that it was even suggested.shame on the society where a girl cries out for help and no treatment is offered


  8. My heart goes out to that poor schoolgirl. How awful! And that uncle would have had greater license to perpetrate his crimes in future... Very sad.
    Thankfully have not been too much at the receiving end- did have a relative, who used to make his point with touches, we found not very comfortable. However Mom was empathetic, and used to keep a strict eye, keep out of range herself!


  9. WhatsInAName Says:

    hmmm
    You hit the nail on its head. Its sad state of affairs. Its there everywhere - a universal monster. In India, it has to be worst, since we give undue importance to society and its weird customs.
    Everything lies in the hands of mothers. If mother decides to protect and fight it out for her girl child, these things can be washed away!
    Hopefully!


  10. Really sad incident. What irks me most is - the mother - the one should be show most empathy most understanding is the one that turns against the girl. As a mother to a boy I am most watchful for people who want to pet him - I know I am crazy to even think like that - but what if???? what if there really is a crazy pedophile???? how can I live with myself knowing I could have prevented it.


  11. Alapana Says:

    I had a brilliant student when i was teaching at Hyderabad but certain days she used to be so silent and depressed and i used to see her sitting in the lawns for hours together after the classes and when i tried talking to her a 2o times atleast she revealed something which made me mad with anger.As a 10yr old she was sexually abused by her cousin who used to come home,and this girl when trusted her mom and told her what was happening The mother asked her to keep quite and not to say it out to anyone as it would ruin the peace in the family and there would be Unnecessary!!! confrontations. And this girl was in a shock but she did keep quite and they took care by not leaving her alone,and later the girl joined in a hostel and now that she is back home and doing her Masters here she is angry that the cousin who did all this,who is married now and has a little daughter still visits her house and her mom makes all efforts to please him and instructs the girl to sit and talk to him and his wife.Thats why on such days she hates to go home and in her own words "I hate my mom,what is she scared off?" The questions had no proper answers or justifications,i saw the girl suffering for an year and when she spoke it made me silent for a few days.And this is one very well educated and working mom and family i am talking about.Wish we can speak up when needed.


  12. Alapana Says:

    I was a little apprehensive to put up what i did or what i thought was a solution.After two days i told the girl to call up her cousin when he is in the office and threaten him that she would write anonymous letter to his wife linking him to his X girlfriend whom he still meets regularly with out his wife's knowledge and that she would go to any extent to reveal so many not so nice things about him if he doesn't stop visiting their house and if he doesn't keep his distance from her {he used to still give her those livid and stupid looks} she would make an issue out of it and now she is not scared of anything,and that he has lots to loose and that he has a daughter too.
    It worked,he got a transfer to Delhi and he never visited their house past four years and the girl is in London School Of Economics now,happy and having fun,more than that now she speaks out when she knows she needs to,And i know it helps her and others too.


  13. Lavs Says:

    Though my parents never taught me the difference between good touch and bad touch, I learnt it from my cousins. In fact, when my cousin sister reported that one particular uncle always likes to pinch and touch her, I asked her to report this incident to her parents. In case of no reaction from them, I requested her to take matters in her own hands and teach a fitting lesson to this scoundrel. Apparently, she threw chilly powder on this uncle’s eyes when he cornered her alone. Since then, he never bothered her. Some time back, “Young world” magazine of “The Hindu” came out with full page blown up of cartoon pictures illustrating the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch” to children. I have preserved this copy and would teach my kids when they grow up.


  14. namvor Says:

    i literally get goosebumps when i read about this.. (dont have anything to add after reading all the post and the comments).


  15. Fuzzylogic Says:

    Child abuse does occur in India too and even I know of a couple of such cases and it really is sad when parents themselves try to shut the child from speaking up and not stand by him/her.Not many of us are willing to accept that it is rampant even in our country as much as it is in the westren world. I think exploitation is there everywhere.Definitly educating the kids about good touch and bad touch is very important. It scares me to think how many such perverts are out there prying on such young kids.


  16. Usha Says:

    Hipgran:Very sad. If they wanted to get the truth out they COULD HAVE done so many things.When the will is lacking, how can you expect justice?

    JLT:It seems that every family has a resident lech lurking around dark corners.

    WIN:I agree. have you read "Agnipravesam" by jayakantan?

    StS:I understand what you mean. But when the boy is old enough if you have taught him to be sensitive to people's touches, I think he will be able to handle it.

    Alapana:I cannot understand this attitude of mothers. Why, why? I am glad you could help the girl.

    lavs:I guess girls and boys should be taught to take care of themselves. Obviously the villain can't complain. Sometime you could perhaps do a post on the material you have.

    Namvor:Ya, me too.

    Fuzzy:As in the case that I quoted, the victim is made to feel like the criminal and ends up as a psychological wreck. I cannot understand the attitude of the parents at all and their priorities.


  17. Mahadevan Says:

    Parents not believing their children and ignoring the sexual advances of some of the members of the family certainly is one of the major causes for child abuse.

    Unfortunatley, if a female child escapes such onsloughts at home, it may have to face similar problems in the educational institutions and work places.
    Casting couch is not confined to filmdom alone. It manifests in different avatars at different places.

    If a Sanjay Khan slaps a Zeenat Aman or a Salman Khan abuses an Aishwrya, the press writes only about the macho image of the male chauvinists, ignoring the hurt feelings of the female specie.


  18. B o o Says:

    I dont remember who but another blogger had also written a post about how surprised she was to find out that "these" things happen in India too. I am not. Every girl I know has been molested by a family member or a family friend and thats only the tip of the iceberg. I read an article on child abuse in India Today when I was 15 years old and the statistics scared the hell out of me and I was wondering why this issue does nt get as much press as it should. Some of the male teachers in school and tutions are another story as well. After a couple of months, I told my dad I dont want to go maths tution because I did nt like the Sir, he said ok without another question. I have never regretted that I did nt score 100% in 10th standard maths! I hope parents are more aware of these issues and dont turn a blid eye.


  19. head n heart Says:

    CSA or Child sexual abuse is rampant in India too. As so many readers have pointed out, it is the family members themselves who gag the victim's mouth and not allow it to come to light.

    As a counsellor I have heard many such stories from adult survivors of child sexual abuse who suffer the aftermath even in their adult lives - unable to form happy relationship with their spouses and unable to garner their self esteem that was beaten up long long time ago.The victims sometimes become either sexually promiscuous or emotionally withdrawn - both extremes are possible. And some lucky ones with resilience come out of it unscathed too. Now the brain imaging techniques have proved that the victim's brain's neural pathways also suffer a change because of the traumatic experience and many of them become numb emotionally as the emotional area of the brain get shrunk or damaged. Hence many victims, as they narrate their experiences, have a blank face without emotions and sometimes this kind of no-emotions make even court judges wonder if what they are narrating is true!

    As responsible elders and parents we need to educate young children from school going age onwards to protect their bodies from unneeded touch. Children do instinctively understand that certain touches they experience from others are not ok. But they are not equipped with required language power to express these uncomfortable feelings. And parents and teachers need to assure the child that secure feeling where they can come and confide their intimate fears and doubts with them. Never doubt a child’s statement about a sexual abuse. Child can not concoct such a story. Hence please validate its feelings and take the child to a counsellor if you feel inadequate to handle the situation. Be supportive to the child and take action against the perpetrator. You can always get in touch with the person and call him/her over to a private meeting when you can express your concern and even educate the person of the repercussions. It is very sad that many of these abusers have themselves been victims of such an abuse earlier in their life and they are now somehow trying to compensate for their scarred emotions in this way. Both the abuser and the abused need help!

    namaste

    latha vidyaranya


  20. greta grace Says:

    very often we all put our heads together and talk about women rights child abuse female infanticide etc etc and everything get in to our nerves and we think that these scoundrels have to be punished severely but one question always ringers in my heart if this kinda situation is gonna happen to us in a bus travel or train journey how many of us react bravely and courageously ladies? the first change must come from us and if you witness these cases must have the courage to blast off these sex bastards ... always women are compared with softy angels to suppress us just think about our real status and join hands