Sunday, August 29, 2004

Intrusion, Invasion…Save Our Souls

That friendly lil flower-seller down the road, that mechanic boy who’s so very helpful with your car/bike and even Phoolan Devi, all have succumbed to this contemporary and very prominent social issue called CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE. Though in today’s Indian society this issue is not dealt with that much of severity because legally it is defined only as the sexual penetration of a child below the age of sixteen. Though it is not only exploitation in a sexual way of a child’s body but also the torment and harassment of the child mentally too. Other countries though have formulated a more comprehensive definition - sexual behavior may imply touching parts of a child/requesting the child to touch oneself, itself or others/ogling at the child in a sexual manner/taking pornographic photographs/requiring the child to look at parts of body, sexual acts or other material in a way that is arousing to oneself; and verbal comments or suggestions to the child which are intended to threaten the child sexually or otherwise to provide sexual gratification for oneself. It must be defined by every circumstance in which it occurs; in families, in state-run private institutions, on the street, in classrooms, in pornography, advertising and films. (Driver & Droisen)
Now coming home, in Bangalore the problem is a big one too. Cases of child harassment and molestation have been on and off in the media. There was one such big issue about a child being molested in a prestigious school in south Bangalore in the year 1997-98 and one previously of a lab attendant molesting a girl in a famed all girls school. Now these are just a few brave voices that have stood up against the atrocities of Child Sexual Abuse but there still are and will succumb to these evil actions of some sexually frustrated people.
Though there have been some solutions to this issue in the form of helplines like Makkala Sahayavani and a lot of NGO’s like Vishwas and others. Children and concerned people have approached these places for help and many a lives have been helped. But it looks that it sure looks a long way ahead till there would be a greater amount of such sexually abused children would come to help considering the social stigmas attached to the disclosure and seeking of help for such issues. Anyway it looks as if there has been a step taken in the right direction to address this issue with the help of such NGO’s and helplines.

A poem written by a survivor of CSA. (As reported by Ms. McFarlane from the college address delivered at the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Conference.)

I asked for help.

I asked for help and you told me you would
If I told you things my Dad did to me.
You asked me to trust you, and you made
Me repeat them to fourteen different strangers
I asked you for privacy.
You sent two policemen to my school…
Like I was the one being busted.
I asked you for help and you gave me a doctor with cold hands
Who spread my legs and stared at me
Just like my father.
I asked you for confidentiality and you let
The newspapers get my story.
I asked you for permission and you gave
Me a social worker.
Do you know what it is to have more
Social workers than friends?
I asked you for help and you forced my
Mum to choose between us.
She chose him of course.
She was scared and she had a lot to lose.
I had a lot to lose too.
The difference is you never told me how much.
I asked you to put an end to my abuse,
You put an end to my whole family.
You took away my nights of Hell
And gave me days of Hell instead.
You’ve changed my private nightmare for a
Very public one.


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