“I was not even ten, when I was first sexually abused. The perpetrator was a distant relative, who had come to stay with us for a short period of time. Like many Punjabi households, ours was an open house, always welcoming to cousins and their friends, and their friends in turn. Today, decades later, I cannot even recall the precise connection of this man to my family. But, to a child’s eye, he was avuncular and affectionate and, in any case, I just assumed I was safe in my own home.
Little did I imagine that this much-older, family figure-someone who would take the kids for piggy-back rides and twirl us around in the air, could be such a monster. Worse still, as a child unable to process the magnitude of what had happened-I was the one who felt grotesque and dirty. The concept of teaching your child to distinguish between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ had not yet become the enlightened norm. But after the first few times I had innocently followed him to ‘play’ with him in his room, I was overcome by panic and disgust.
Ridden with guilt, unable to shake off the feeling of being dirty and trapped in a sink of fear, I finally told my mother that something terrible had happened. My assaulter was immediately thrown out of the house and I buried the awfulness of the memory in a deep, dark place that I hoped I would never have to revisit. As I grew older, what stayed with me, strangely enough, was the rancid smell of hair-oil; even years later, anything that smelt faintly similar made me nauseous. In my growing years, I blocked out the man’s face, his name, in fact the very incident was banished to the recesses of my consciousness; but from that moment onwards, sexual abuse had an odour.”
This candid account as taken from Barkha Dutt’s book ‘This Unquiet Land’ captures the magnitude of more psychological, than physical consequences of child abuse.
Child abuse and Maltreatment is highest degree of sin. For a naive child, abuse and maltreatment is not only limited to the hurt and pain at the time of wrong doing, but it also has a long lasting impact throughout the life, which can be hard to shed. Victims of such sinful aggression develop a notion that the world is a bad place and people are profoundly wicked. And it is because of this pessimistic outlook that innocent children grow up on immorality. Often they lose their self esteem and underestimate their worth.
Child abuse is a harsh reality. Throughout the world, Organizations and Nations constantly try and work hard to eradicate this evil. United Nations on June 4th, every year observes the ‘International Day of Innocent Child Victims of Aggression.’ This day affirms the UN’s commitment to protect the rights of children.
India tops the chart in case of child abuse. After East Asia, South Asia with India as its centre is the fastest growing and the second largest region for child abuse and trafficking in the world. Women and children of rural background are sold as domestic or sex workers, while some of them go missing and their families fail to trace them. In addition to their plight, these children are mostly unpaid and left in debt bondage.
Such abused children are more likely to experience problems, like low academic achievement, drug use and psychological problems.
Recently, on May 31st, Women and Child Development Minister, Menka Gandhi has unveiled a draft of India’s first ever comprehensive ‘Anti-Human Trafficking Law’, which is a weapon of great potential to bring down the rates of Child Abuse in India.
For a victim of child abuse, life would have been different if someone had the courage to step in and stop the abuse, or speak up against it. Because of the fear of restitution, adults are afraid to speak up for children. But whenever in such a situation, just think about the child victim who is being hurt in the most heinous way possible; empathize with the powerless and unaware child.
None of the organizations or an “International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression”
would be enough if the civilians don’t take responsibility to not only step up and do something personally about it, but also to step ahead and ask community for help. It goes either way.
About The Author
I am doing psychology hons from MCMDAV College.
I love travelling and cooking.
I am DIY enthusiast.