Sitting in a workshop on child sexual abuse, as much as there was intake of knowledge about this sensitive subject, there was also exhaling of anger. On where mankind has got to. Abusing children, sex with dolls, murder for money, bombs in the name of God, parochialism in the name of native pride..etc etc. The list is endless.
I cant fathom who in hells name would abuse a child. It transpires that 55 % of children are abused in India. This is the story in South Africa. I can almost hear you say, ‘what crap’. Well, that was my first reaction as well. But go ahead, go do the research. But be sure to come back and read the rest of this post.
CSA is defined thus. The stories that got discussed were gripping. And, by the way, we were told that graphic portions were censored !! I squirmed. Wringed my hands. Ran my hand through my hair in despair. Is this what civilisation has come to? Apparently it has.
It turns out that i had been looking in the other direction, like most of you. Perhaps aware that such a situation existed, but not perhaps comprehending the gravity of it all. Some facets stand steady in my mind, long after the workshop was done.
When you hear that disabled children are prone to more sexual abuse ( approx four times more) or that an abuser offender is an uncle or a father or a grandfather, these thoughts are not leaving your mind in a hurry !
The ways of combating CSA were discussed & therein lay answers. One of them was to be emotionally connected to your child. To talk to him or her ( yes, boys get abused as much as girls do). It was indeed a revelation to note that bathtimes and bed times are the best times to have conversations with children. ‘Bed time’, i knew. ‘Bath times’ was new.
The other more important element was to create language for communication with the child. For instance, it is indeed a common practice that children dont know the exact names of their private body parts. If we teach children ‘hand’, ‘legs’, ‘nose’ etc, why not ‘penis’ or ‘vagina’ ! When children look at parts of their own body with mystery, abuse is an easy fall out.
Why dont we do that ? That was a question that i still am searching for answers. Perhaps the answer is closeted in the culture cupboard. All the same, it is going to make it difficult for the child, to describe / report abuse ! That definitely was a learning !
The exercise left me with a lump in my throat. These things, like a bomb blast, seem to occur only on the TV screen. If we indeed are not careful, we are sure to see, our own back yard on the TV screens! Crying the hoarse cry of the unfortunate, innocent victims that we see on our screens today.
To parents: The writing is on the wall. Please do not CSA lightly. Abuse has known to have begun as early as week after birth & extend through all of childhood. Girls & boys. So.
Thats a heavy message. But thats as light as it can get!
And by the way, did you know that there arent any special laws against Child Sexual Abuse currently in India ?!?! Huh !!!! None at all.
There is Sec 375, that deals with Peno Vaginal Sex ( which deals with rape & such other )
And there is Sec 377, that deals with unnatural sexual offences ( including homosexuality )
Between these two, Child Sexual Abuse will survive to fell another child. So, as parents, it is a solemn duty to ensure safety of children. And if you arent one yet, please dont be an innocent bystander who turns his head in another direction.
For more details & help understand this better / conduct a similar workshop at your school, housing society, organisation, do write to Shobha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The least that you could do, is stay on gaurd !