Child sexual abuse is a global threat and has spread its poisoned roots in the very soil of India. What makes India, a country rich in ethics and values faces such hideous and alarming crime?
India may be rich and deep-rooted in its culture and values, but the mentality of people in India impoverishes this rich culture. The age-old superstitions, belief in patriarchy, prevailing myths curb the essence of love and humanity. If India was free from such evils, imagine how flourishing this land would be for the children of our country! Our values make it difficult for children assert themselves and exhibit any independence in thought, action, or behaviour. Children, the future of our country are living like parasites due to our value system. Mostly, fear wears the mask of respect and children are expected to know their limits. Hence, freedom of speech is a farce for children.
From the many distressing problems that children go through, child sexual abuse, definitely, is horrendous. Here are some reasons that probably make Child Sexual Abuse prevail in India.
Overarching Pressure of Patriarchy: Children, especially in India, are interrelated in many ways right from their birth. Irrespective of the education given to women and child welfare, our society breathes patriarchy! The roots of patriarchy are so strong and widespread that it seems to be taking us ages to eradicate its very essence of our psyche. The difference between boys and girls is made right from the colours and toys they may like. This goes on to their nature and supposed roles wherein boys are expected to be ‘macho’, guardians of women/children; women are expected to be submissive, caregivers and sufferers. On one hand, we presume men as the abusers; hence, it is generally considered that boys cannot be abused. On the other hand, women are considered natural victims and hence are not assumed as abusers. This concept is downright incorrect. The same idea is passed on to generations. The cycle has to break. One has to understand that Child sexual abuse is done for sexual gratification and power over children – the victim could be anyone regardless gender.
Family Institution: Our country emphasizes family integrity, loyalty, and unity. However, children are not encouraged to be independent and self-sufficient. Children are considered ‘true at heart’ and innocent but when they express their dislike towards someone touching or behaving with them incorrectly, it is considered that the child is either dimwit or pretends to know more than his/her age. Their mere grievance of disliking someone’s touch is conveniently ignored. As if they can’t have a voice of their own. Visitors can touch/ kiss them as they like. Their intentions may not be wrong, but a child has complete right to refuse if they don’t like and it is parents’ duty to listen and act. It is assumed that only children of the poor face this situation. Again, it is pure myth. There are cases where members of rich joint families have used children of their own family for sexual gratification. These families are more concerned about pride and honour; hence, their children are not even heard. If a child raises a voice, s/he is silenced. Parents may forget this incidence in their child’s life as a part of them growing up, but the event is mostly carved in the victim’s (child) mind and it can have adverse effects on them in their adulthood.
A lack of safety: Child sexual abuse is a planned crime. The abuser keeps a check on the child’s daily activities, befriends the child’s near ones, becomes his/her confidant and accordingly commits the crime. The matter of safety is essential because the abuser can actually be anyone. In India, neighbours and guests are equivalent to God. Hence, parents blindly trust these strangers (who pretend to be well-wishers) and this can sometimes be dreadful. Not only strangers but people we know for ages can be the abusers. Coming down to the seriousness of this crime, in some cases, parents have themselves abused children sexually.
In the face of such crisis, how do we ensure safeguarding our children?
Awareness: is the key! Adults should keep their eyes open and an ear out for all the possible signs. Here out your children, befriend them and actively participate in their life. Educating children in the first place is important so that they can speak if they fear or suspect anything.
Teach: Children are uncut diamonds. They learn from us. On the blank slate of their minds and hearts, we can write the songs of innocence and wisdom. They mould as we mould them, in the environment that we give them. It will be up to us to cast them in a better shape for them to make a better tomorrow.
Get Involved: In spite of the grim cases of child sexual abuse, currently there are only four organizations in India working on the issue in a focused manner. We Indians need more mouths to spread the word and more hands to protect the future of our country. Get involved in this crucial matter of India and be the change you want to see.