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Parental Rape And Incest: A Distant Myth Or A Harsh Reality?

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By Amrita Paul:

“As my pen glides over this page
it falters, erases
Once again I become
a child on the bed, staring at the sun
wilting in the heat
wishing for a pyre.”

At times I feel that we are mere puppets in the hands of this structure called society. We believe what we are told to believe, see what we are directed to look at, and ignore anything which could be even remotely controversial. Anything unpleasant can be conveniently side lined because after all,-“What would people say?” So we remain blissfully married and have an affair with our secretaries, pretend to save the world and bribe a traffic police or impose restrictions on our daughters before going to a nearby brothel and sleeping with someone half their age. Obviously the above implied statements are not meant for ‘everyone’ but you see, kind words have never been quite a favourite of the people of this nation.

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.”

Vladmir Nobokov had the potential of transforming something as disgraceful and insensitive as incest (illegal sexual intercourse between close relatives) into a rather poetic affair. It literally makes you go into the mind of Humbert and find out for yourself why paedophiles never cease to exist. But alas, reality is a far cry from a popular 20th century novel. It is dark, cruel and gruesome. It is about cheap pleasure which one derives after destroying the life of young girls forever. In fact, it is so shocking that most people would not even believe that something like parental rape could ever happen to anyone. Because it is not something that you talk about when your friends come over or you attend a party. You an engineer, a doctor. You dream of building bridges, saving lives. But not everyone walking on that bridge or into your chamber is brought up by caring parents. Some inevitably fall prey to greedy monsters whose thirst can never be quenched. So what if you save the young girl who drank a bottle of phenyl? You are again sending her back to the hell hole she came from. Where she was beaten up, impregnated and left to suffer.

Incest, my friend, is probably a much bigger problem than you can ever imagine. It is humiliating, excruciatingly painful and the most heinous crime an individual could ever commit. May be that’s why we need to pause, take our time out and think whether the young girl walking down the bridge is returning back to a happy household or planning to jump into the river, midway.

Yes, undoubtedly it is not something as objective as poverty, land acquisition or lack of water which a minister might promise to provide after to vote for him in the upcoming elections. Hence the action needs to be taken by us, people like you and me who have had a decent childhood and know the importance of having one in order to lead a life without many regrets or mental baggage. The responsibility of this country’s future is in our hands and like always we have a choice- A choice to take charge and make the necessary changes, or ignore the issue like any other coward who is too bothered by what people around him might think of his actions. It will never be an easy fight, but if we don’t try and stop this, no one ever will. Lets first begin by creating enough awareness, so that the victims of such act know that there are people who want them to come out in the people, support them and fight for them. Let’s start now.

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  1. Yogesh

    Though topic is quite serious and yes there may be few individuals who may be involved in such things but the article is very very abstract. Kindly mention some statistics, media reports or anecdotes which can substantiate your claim, and how people can be protected from such things from happening to them.

  2. Amrita Paul

    Dear Yogesh,

    The article was ‘abstract’ because somewhere down the line I wanted to be that way. It was not a news piece, it was meant to be more of a discussion with the readers. You want facts, so here it is :

    1. A certain business man in Mumbai started have sex with his daughters (21,16) after taking “ADVICE” from a tantrik in order to improve his business.

    2. A fifteen year old had complained to the police with the help of her mother as her mother would find excuses to send the mother away so that he could sexually abuse his daughter.

    3. A certain P.Sowmya (name changed) married the first guy who asked her out for marriage to escape the clutches of her father, who had been abusing her since she was a child of ten. As fate would have it, her husband also started abusing her and this continued till they were separated.

    4. A farmer in his early 50s developed a sexual relation with his 30-year-old daughter-in-law in a village in Kaithal district. Their liaison continued for almost a year. The matter even reached the village panchayat, which ordered separation of the two unlikely partners so that the woman could go back to her husband.

    I could possibly go on and on about it. Here are some statistics though. According to a survey conducted by a Delhi based organization, RAHI (Recovering and healing from Incest) 76% of the respondents were abused as a children, 40% by their own family members.

    According to founder Anuja Gupta,”One of the reasons there hasn’t been any data collection is because it is not considered to be an Indian problem.” Their report suggests that nearly three-quarters of upper and middle class Indian women are abused by a family member – mostly an uncle, a cousin or an elder brother. And more often than not, such issues are covered up because it would bring the family a bad name. Some times the child is presumed to have been lying because her/his parents are too scared to think about the alternate possibility. From children as young as 15 to women as old as 66 have been raped by their own family members.

    68%of the abused were from nuclear families, 16% from semi joint and 15% from joint families. Despite common perception that the mothers of abused children were working, the report said that of those surveyed who said they were abused, 60% of mothers were housewives and 40% were employed.

    Clearly, POVERTY is not a major problem here because mostly the cases reported are that of middle class and upper middle class families.

    So the TRUTH, however unpleasant is in front of you. And if you ask for a solution, I can tell you the best possible way to combat this social evil is to SPEAK OUT. If you see any of your relative, friend, acquaintance been victimized by a family member advice/help her to gather the courage and report about it to a police official. Ask help from Non Governmental Organizations working in this field. You see, there is plenty of ways to go about doing it. And ignoring it is certainly not a solution.

    So my opinion will be to speak, if possible SHOUT OUT loud, spread awareness so that we can fight incest to the best of our abilities.


  3. vaibhav tiwari

    Article is good…
    Coming to the most important part i.e. the solution part….
    “such issues are covered up because it would bring the family a bad name. Sometimes the child is presumed to have been lying because her/his parents are too scared to think about the alternate possibility. From children as young as 15 to women as old as 66 have been raped by their own family members.”
    Your solution SPEAK OUT..
    INCEST are found between close relatives and are usually kept private between the one who is being abused and the one who is abusing, it is this closeness and privacy that makes it difficult for such relation to come out in public, unless and until abused or abuser voluntarily comes forward..
    Now considering the above excerpt, there arises some questions….
    How can we expect anyone to be aware of and speak out for such close relation between their relative, friend, acquaintance…….?

    and if in case anyone( any relative of victim) gets to know anyhow about such relation don’t you think that person may be threatened or requested to cover up the relation as it would bring the family bad name…don’t forget that any relative too will never want to do so ( bring family bad name)..
    CHILDREN are generally found victim of such relations…. but you only have mentioned here that” Sometimes the child is presumed to have been lying because her/his parents are too scared to think about the alternate possibility.”
    So if the main victim is presumed to be lying then from whom else we can expect the truth…..?
    Next case is of age…..i can understand the child of 15 or below can be threatened but what about 18 or above (as you mentioned 66)….?
    Why don’t adult, mature physically and mentally strong woman come forward against the plight….?
    Answer again is the same i.e. the closeness, privacy, threat of bad name etc etc..
    What i have said above doesn’t mean that INCEST are inevitable and can’t be tracked..But the solution which you have mentioned seems rare possibility.. ( as in all above cases which you have mentioned it was only tracked when someone spoke but the point which should be noticed is that in all these and many such cases victim themselves came forward not before being harassed for many years….)
    SPEAKING OUT seems good solution but one can’t speak without any information and proof, which is very difficult to get as i have explained above…
    before winding up I should say that I too don’t know what can be the best solution of this problem but if we focus on reasons of this problem rather the solution we get that HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY has something to do with it…..( please go through Oedipus and Electra complex)..

  4. rinki

    I agree with the article and all comments in support of it. The degree of abuse happening to the innocent is beyond measure now. Not just physical, but even emotional abuse to such psychopathic extents that at times it tends to leave a permanent hole into a wounded soul. No one is born evil but it is the ways of suppressing emotions to respect authority and not be allowed to speak up against what is wrong which becomes the cause for such abnormal behavior in many that are easily prone to abuse and cruelty and power games on other peace-loving souls following their elders out of fear and confusion. Suppressed anger often damages the senses that can perceive the right from wrong and people end up commiting crimes and then following paths to avoid being convicted for it. Often they are psychopathic enough to not be connected to their conscience to such degrees that no amount of polite talking would influence them. They understand all niceness and politeness as appeasement of their ego and nevertheless continue with their narcissistic and psychopathic behavior. These people seriously need to be sent to rehab and mental treatment instead of being punished behind bars. Gross punishment tends only to worsen their already deranged state of mind.

  5. Shray Jai Mishra

    A very well written article about a topic which is considered taboo in context to our Indian society… I liked the comment of the writer too….i second the thought that SPEAKING UP is the best possible solution…a person in this situation should always inform about it to the police officials or the N.G.O’s…..on the whole a good choice of topic…this needs to be addressed and youth needs to be made more aware of their rights….we all should know that NO ONE can do any such abuse…..if we SHOUT…. SHOUT OUT LOUD.

    Shray Jai Mishra

  6. Amrita Paul

    Dear Vaibhav,

    1. How can we expect anyone to be aware of and speak out for such close relation between their relative, friend, acquaintance…….?

    ans: We are speaking about it now.Aren’t’ we? The people who have read the article will be made aware, even though in a small inconspicuous way . If you want to help someone you have to notice if any off your near and dear one is behaving a little oddly of late, keeping aloof from interacting with people mostly men. And then probably you can go and ask because it is but obvious that the victim will not come and tell you straightaway about what has happened behind closed doors.

    2.So if the main victim is presumed to be lying then from whom else we can expect the truth…..?

    ans: The victim you see, is “presumed” to have been lying and that does not mean necessarily that they are not saying the truth.

    3. Why don’t adult, mature physically and mentally strong woman come forward against the plight….?

    ans: Adult, mentally and physically ad mentally strong woman you say? What could she do you tell me? Especially if she is financially dependent on her husband.More often that not she is scared of being stigmatized and harassed by the society and her family.

    As far as Oedipus complex is concerned, If you read up on the Greek hero Oedipus, you will understand the basic purpose of calling it a complex is futile because he had no clue that the woman he was marrying was his birth mother. It was not something he did out of consciousness.

    And I never said speaking out will be easy. Trust me, enough medical proof will be available if the girl was actually raped.


  7. Nupur

    Parental Rape has so many dimensions. When parents hammer their kids to gobble everything and compete; is another parental rape ,where u rape kids of their innocence and childhood. The literal interpretation is quite disturbing as well

  8. Monika Pant

    First of all, kudos to Ms. Amrita Paul for daring to question, building awareness and writing so aptly about the issue at hand. All thoughts and opinions on the matter stand firm, but this is not a debate.

    Society, my dear friends is for the individual, nor vice versa. In this day and age, close relatives never, I repeat, never side with those who dare to speak out, and definitely not if they speak out against their own ilk. One supporter may be there, but his/her voice would be drowned in the swarms of relatives who would rather not let skeletons out of the closet.

    Having said this, individual voices have to rise above the din of self appointed custodians of society, and those who have the gumption, must encourage the individual to speak out and rebel against the perpetrator of the crime, be it father, brother or grandfather. The need of the hour is not to let society, relatives and even close family members become so important to the individual that under the garb of ‘respectability’ crimes are committed. The need is to empower the individual within the framework of the family, to speak against even the family members if they are wrong. Not just in such heinous crimes, but all wrong, narrow-minded prejudiced people should be rebelled against and ticked off by those who know better.

    What is this fetish for values and morals among Indians and the constant lament of the older generation about the deteriorating feeling of respect among youngsters when elders themselves are champions of pretence? Corrupt practices, from bribing the traffic police (as described by Amrita) to asking for dowry and committing honour killings, are the daily norm, yet youngsters are blamed for the decay in values. This time it is not the state against the individual, but the family against the individual.

    One person in each family has to be honest with oneself, speak out and not relent. Each family should uphold the morals it preaches. The individual has to be given preference, after all, it is the individual which is the unit of the family and the society. Here’s to the empowerment of the nation, beginning with the individual!

  9. sosari

    Rape in any country is unthinkable. I couldn’t imagine being born in a world where all women were considered less than trash. I would probably make up a lie by the age of 3 or 4 – saying that I got raped on my way home from working at the rug weaving factory (or where ever) just so I would be executed by my family to save myself a life time of abuse. I might even be lucky enough to be reincarnated as an American Christian girl with doting parents and a big brother who would protect me from anyone who might try to mess with his aborable little sister. If it didn’t work the first time…I mean if my reincarnation landed me right back where I started from, then I’d rinse and repeat over and over again until it took.

  10. Radha

    Working mothers kindly excuse me. What so ever I have written are more for home makers like me.Asking the victim to speak out,asking the family ( parents ) to speak out… sounds good to the ears but is not practical at all. The solution rather lies in the hands of the parents. Come what may, do not trust another person . For convenience do not leave children with others.Shopping, getting a break, time with the spouse,, are all the common reasons for mothers leaving the children ( home makers) with someone else.Just do not take a chance.It is high time we accept reality. Start educating them slowly about safe and unsafe environments.Let us all accept the fact that there is no short cuts in bringing up children. Maids,drivers,grandparents,uncles and aunts… are the not the ones to bring up our tiny tots. It is the mother and only the mother.Unavoidable circumstances do arise. It is not only the mentally disabled “paedophiles” who get into this.Normal people who have not had a let out in their life including desparate uncles not married yet, desparate grandfathers.. are people who are otherwise normal get distracted at certain moments. And it is these tiny ones who cannot retaliate who fall a prey.
    Let us accept and reduce the chances to the best possible way .Prevention is better than cure.

  11. Arpit

    I’m curious why this article only concentrates on girls…

    Our world almost automatically believes that a rape victim can only be a girl, believing that there’s no chance of rape for boys.

    There are supposed to be a large number of incidents of male rape too – only some of which manage to reach the news – mostly brutal incidents where an uncle or some relative sodomizes a young boy and murders him.

    I believe this should have been mentioned too – as boys are less likely too come forward and admit what happened to them – as in our society – then a male appears ’emasculated’ in the others’ eyes.

    An offence which no one ever talks about except in whispers – is more likely to escalate and ruin more lives.

    Only if parents, siblings and friends are aware of this, will these incidents reduce…

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