I was in 5th grade when R told me that her cousin is touching her in inappropriate places. It was a time when I did not know what to make out it. But I distinctly remember how R would tell us horrific stories of her cousin who was easily 10 years older than us fondling her and touching her . I could not even fathom half of what R told me. I was brought up in a family where the only man I knew was my dad. In the sense, it was me, my sister, my mother and my grandmother. We never discussed sex, abuse or anything remotely close to that. So when R told me about it, I did not know how to react. I gave her a shoulder to cry and crib but never dared to take this to my parents or any elders.
Few years later, one day I saw that one of my cousins was secretly watching me when I was changing into my pants. We lived in a crawl where rooms were like train bogies, one after another. There was huge mirror in the middle room and the mirror was slightly visible from one corner of the hall. Here I was changing my pants in the middle room and I saw this guy looking at me from the other room (hall) through the mirror. I must have been in 7th standard at that time. I was shocked. It was cousin who was very dear to me, whom I looked up to. And here, he was trying to eye me in that way! My blood boiled, I was utterly disappointed! I lost all faith and love that I had for this guy. My mind immediately started racing between all those instances where any of my guy cousins, friends, and acquaintances had touched me. I started evaluating each and every incident marking them good or bad. It took me some time to piece all the information together and face the situation. Later, I decided I will not allow anyone to come inside the periphery of my comfort. I never had the courage to talk about this to elders but I tried to figure out ways to protect myself. Much later in life this guy did confront and apologized for doing that. But it did not help, it certainly din’t! Apologies cannot heal the scar that incidents like these leave on you!
My sister once said that one other person that we both knew tried to touch her but being a bad-tempered girl that she is, she slapped him. I don’t think anyone would have dared to mess up with her ever after.. These are not just 1-2 incidents. I heard many such of friends, friend’s friends during my school and college times.
Now, before you judge my family, let me clarify- They are all very nice people otherwise. All these people that I told you about are all highly educated, happily married, very good husbands and they are doting fathers to their kids. One may not even believe if I point my fingers at them and say, “Hey weren’t you the one who abused me or she or her?”. Its just that when they were young, their adolescent hormones made them behave that way!
When Nirbhaya gang rape happened, people raised a hue and cry about society, safety in NCR, India and whatever that came to their mind. There were protests overnight when it was shivering outside, but when it comes to abuse by a family member, the topic is still considered a taboo. Such a family oriented society we live in that we cannot talk bad about our elders. We cannot voice against our mamas and chachas even if they continue to abuse you.
How many of us discuss child sexual abuse with our kids?
Agreed, sexual abuse is rampant everywhere, the concern is that we, in India refuse to acknowledge it. We refuse to even think that a family member could harm your child in that way! I remember, when I discussed this with friends they said “Forget it” exactly how I told R. And that is what I tried doing, forgetting all these years! Forgetting that the person for whose wedding I am dancing is the one who tried to look at me, forgetting that the person who is now pampering his daughter is the one who tried to touch and misbehave with someone I know.
I know, a lot of people would ask me why am I bringing skeletons out of closet, suddenly. Why am I discussing all of it here in public? And if you are one among that, then THIS is exactly my point. It was not wrong for that person to have done that but the fact that I am talking about it is wrong? I am sure millions of women in India must have had such experiences, if not by a family member then a friend or an acquaintance. If not, then thank your stars! Just because the person is known to you, it does not make their crime less.
I am not even thinking as I write this. I might regret this post of mine later. S might ask me to pull it down, my parents if they ever read this might force me to name that cousin, my in-laws might judge me. But I wanted to vent! I am too depressed after seeing this short film.
It brought back all those painful memories, those tales that my friends used to narrate.
What happened to me is nothing as compared to what so many girls went through or going through, it’s minuscule when I think of those horrific tales that R used to tell me about her cousin. Just because the child is silent does not mean everything is fine. They might be enduring the pain silently not knowing whom to talk to. As they say, “Silence can be the loudest scream!”
Some random ideas which might help to address this issue:-
Please feel free to add your points. You never know how it might help others.
Talk to your kids. Effective communication is very important in tackling this rampant but ignored subject.
Parenting is a huge responsibility. By not talking you might be ignoring trauma your kid is going through.
If you do not want to talk to them directly about sex, abuse etc. come up with some creative ways to convey your point.
Here, you have an example :-
I also remember watching a beautiful Hindi video of a man teaching a bunch of kids about abuse. Let me know if anyone has the link of that video.
Internet is a great source of information. Make use of it and come up with some creative ways of educating kids.
Tell them to shout or cry if they find someone touching them in inappropriate places. Most of all give instill the confidence that you are there to listen to them and fight for them.
Do not ignore child sexual abuse. By not talking about it you are doing no good.
Spend some good time connecting with your child.
Teach them the difference between good touch and bad touch.
Listen to your child and always trust them when they say something like this.
Finally share this information with people. Talk to your friends. Awareness is what is required.
Can you believe if I say that until recently I did know that even male kids were being abused? I always thought that its the female who go through such incidents until I read about this 11 rear old guy who was raped by his older brother daily for 4 years. I was stunned. The news paralyzed me! How could he do it to his own younger brother?
One cannot be ignorant in this big bad world. It’s time we broke all the taboo sentiments attached to topics like sex, abuse etc. and discussed this with the future generation. And hope that we are able to put an end to it, if not now then at least 2 generations down the line!
Talking about the short film, it is a film by
Production House – Apogeo Films
Brand – Vanitha
Agency – Interface communications
National Creative Director – Robby Mathew
Creative Conceptualization & Written by – Kumar
About the editing and concept, all I can say is that I am speechless! Whattay beautiful way to handle this subject. Wonderfully made. It just touched a chord and left my heart filled with tears. Warm hugs to the creative team behind it!