Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Breaking the Silence

 So recently Barhka Dutt, a journalist and author, recently opened up about being a child sexual abuse survivor in her new book 'This Unique Land- Stories from India's Fault Lines.'

 And as expected, our highly esteemed and sensitive Indian masses, especially men won standing position in their all rounded compassionate comment and behavior towards her story. One man wrote at that way a women can earn sympathy in the public eye is by making up false allegations of being a sexual abuse survivor while others told her to shut it and stop fabricating stories to get attention. Or even one very detailed comment about how the abuser must've been abused by Barkha and not the other way around as even his street dog won't look at her. I mean let’s not drag animals, who have more class, sympathy and brains than this crass young man, into the picture.

Can everyone please... just take a moment of silence and look at these internet trolls and absolute insensitive masses who live in our country?

Here is a woman journalist, who personally speaking, I too am not a fan of her but sympathy is what makes us humans, and a little sympathy can go a long way. She's got her fair share of mistakes and black clouds that have marred her for some, but does that give the right to anyone, and I mean anyone, to laugh and joke about a weighty issue as her being sexually abused as a little girl? THIS. This is exactly why we as an India society are still backwards when it comes to talking about issues of mental health and child abuse as we have been taught from the start to respect elders and how elder can never do wrong, be wrong and are our superheroes.

Imagine an uncle or an aunt, who you know is immediate family and see her/him on a regular bases when it comes to a family event, as you are almost forced to greet them with a smile and touch their feet, worshipping them, and always giving them their due respect as expected from societal norms.

Even though, the last time you met, you hated the way they touched your tender body but you kept quiet as you being a child thought it was your cousin Riya or Rahul also went through. This is normal. Maybe I am a little abnormal as he's/she's family. We're bounded by blood, and this person cannot and will not hurt me. I mean, blood is thicker than water, right?

But maybe, over a game of hide-n-seek you chat and realize that your cousins don't go through what you went through. You think to yourself, maybe I'm his/her favorite and should feel special. You try and you try, but you just can't let go that vile feeling and you hide the disgust of being touched. You will try to tell your mother or father, who will shun you for even thinking that your uncle-ji/ aunty-ji would even do such a thing. I mean which human is ready to accept that they are related to a monster?

Years and years pass by, your brain must've crammed this to the back and you move on in life but suddenly you read something, see something or let a boy/ girl touch you and you feel like you're chest is a coil which suddenly breaks and all you're left with is anxiety and flashbacks of the past you never truly escaped.

When you finally have the courage to share it as an adult, people hate on you and ask questions as to why you never spoke up before. Just like we're taught, we can't speak when not asked. But when we finally are asked, it's too late? There must be some loophole you could use to voice your opinions without getting hate, but there never is.

Here's some statistics for you:

Of the children interviewed by a 2007 survey conducted by Humans Rights Watch, more than half (53 percent) said that they had been subjected to one or more forms of sexual abuse. Over 20 percent of those interviewed said they were subjected to severe forms of abuse, defined in the report as “sexual assault, making the child fondle private parts, making the child exhibit private body parts and being photographed in the nude.” Of those who said they were sexually abused, 57 percent were boys.

The survey also found that very few cases are ever reported. The vast majority of victims (72 percent) said that they did not report the matter to anyone and only 3 percent of them or their families told the police. In most cases the perpetrator was known to the child. The 2007 government survey found that among abused children, only 25 percent had told anyone, and only in 3 percent of the cases had the police been informed. As in many other countries, deep-rooted cultural norms discouraged open discussion of sex and make it hard for a child to complain about older relative or a person in authority.

Now, do you understand how vital this topic is? By making jokes and trolls on the internet on a woman who finally got the courage to speak out, you are actively propagating in shaming victims of child abuse and bullying them to keep their silence. It's time we talked about the big suffocating and disturbing elephant in the room. It's time we broke the silence.