By Shruti Kesavan:
“It is not lack of knowledge which prevented the tragedy; it was the inability to implement what we know.” ~ Nassir Ghaemi
The recent case where two teachers in Hisar, Haryana district were suspended for passing lewd comments on their 16-year-old student not only shocked the Indian public but also brought into light a very important issue of child abuse and whether India is ready to accept it or turn a blind eye towards it, as always. The case was reported and the punishment that the two teachers got, directly throws light on how lightly the Indian government addresses issues such as these.
Child abuse in India is something we ignore simply because in simple words, it hasn’t happened to our children yet. Child abuse by definition is when a child is used by an older individual for sexual stimulation. This would include everything from touching the child in inappropriate places, to addressing the child with lewd comments to more severe acts like rape and molestation.
Grace Poore, the writer of ‘The children we sacrifice’ states that “child abuse is one of the least documented violations in the country”. A huge contribution to this thinking process of Indians in general is that the name of the family would be tarnished as mentioned in the ‘Study on Child Abuse: INDIA 2007’ which was an initiative by the Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Government of India. The agenda behind this study was to educate the public about being more open and at the same time sensitive towards issues like this. India is a country which consists of a population of 40% children which roughly accounts to 375 million children according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), which makes it only all the more important for us as citizens to be more aware and proactive towards topics like this. India having the largest number of minors should take active steps in protecting and safeguarding their rights and also making it a safer place for them to flourish.
According a study conducted by the WHO, one out of every four girls and one out of every seven boys have been exposed to some sort of child abuse. What is more surprising is that out of 12,447 child respondents, 21% of the reported cases are forms of severe sexual abuse and 71% of these cases go unreported. The long term effects that the child goes through account from depression, post traumatic stress, anxiety and in some extreme cases even death. Child abuse can no longer be treated as an issue that cannot be discussed during dinner.
Prevention is better than cure, and in this case prevention is definitely better than cure. There is a dire need for parents and institutions to openly discuss issues like this, and bring about awareness before it is too late. Sex education has always been in the news for negative reasons, saying it would nip the innocence of young minds, but then it would still be a better option when compared to scarring a child for life. Actions like this never elude a mind of a person who has been on the receiving end of such evil. We as a society should not only bring awareness but should also be supportive towards people who have gone through abuse. We definitely cannot erase what has happened but can always lend a helpful hand on the path towards recovery. Last but not the least, the Indian Government should be more stringent towards the offenders and not let them free with a mere suspension.
We often refer to the school being the second home for our kids, but what happens when the protector himself becomes the destroyer? The same person who is supposed to help the child grow becomes the reason for the child to be smothered inside. Not only should there be a special punishment for teachers who violate these laws but also a selection board which verifies the criminal background of the teachers. Issues like abuse should no longer be kept behind closed doors and justice shouldn’t be denied to the innocent minds that will never live with innocence again.