October 5, 2010


Touch Me? DON'T Touch ME!

It is all around us, yet we tend not to ‘see’ it. Certainly amongst the most common topics to be brushed under the carpet is the sensitive issue of Child Sexual Abuse [CSA]. Such a touchy topic is being broached on this space for the first time. CSA is a social malaise, rampant not only behind closed doors of so-called ‘secured’ set ups, but also just about anywhere else. It mostly goes unreported, and there are many reasons. The victims are ‘sush’-ed into silence by the intimidating perpetrator, or are simply too ashamed to talk about it. In India, the relationship between children and their parents is quite affected by notions of ‘hierarchy’, often dissuading the victims from sharing their experience.

The perpetrators of this heinous crime usually tend to be someone close/ known to the victim. This makes it extremely difficult for the child to either protest or disclose it to the parents. Children of both sexes are equally prone to being abused. Despite lack of conclusive data, the number of victims comprises more of girls. As matured individuals, the usual stance is that the child should immediately report any such abuse. This is easier said than done. The honour-shame complex runs deep and the un-sureness of positive action also dissuades the child from reporting the crime. Even if the child takes the courage to confide in parents [or someone else close], many refuse to believe it and simply chide the victim away. This may do intense damage to the psyche of the abused, leaving an impression for the life time.

A more practical solution is [and this is a heartfelt request by the blogger] that youngsters should have a chat with their younger friends and cousins about “good” and “bad” touch. It is also important that young children in the family are taken into confidence, and encouraged to clearly spurn any advances as well as report it. Also, male kids need to be sensitized about such issues, so that they don’t grow to be future perpetrators of this heinous crime. 

At an older age, support is essential to rid the victim of any guilt that they may be carrying from these childhood scars. It is preferred that victims reach out to sensitive individuals who can be a trusted confidant. One may avoid disclosing it to their partners, unless doubly sure of support from them. It is extremely important to think before one “reacts” to such disclosures, as it could be hurtful to the victim. The worst reactions include – “You must have enjoyed it too?!”, “Couldn’t you have reported it?” Such callous statements may leave painful gashes in the minds of CSA victims.

A child is still an immature individual, not knowing all “right” from “wrong”. It is NEVER their fault. Child psychology is exceptionally complex and cannot be explained in passing. If you can’t help, it’s better to stay SHUT than make the victim feel any worse.

Recommended Reading: BITTER CHOCOLATE, Pinky Virani

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