ByÂ Ravi Sahay:
Like modern India, the Indian marriages are also changing. Indians boast that the majority of marriages are arranged and the divorce rate is very very low compared to the western countries. The inference is that the Indian marriages are healthier, happier and more resilient compared to the westerners.
Is that so? Divorce rates increased exponentially in the U.S. after the 50’s due to various factors, one key factor is that women are more educated, empowered and economically independent. Indian women, especially in urban areas, are also getting educated and empowered. Indians in urban areas have started to face higher divorce rates now.
Recent case studies in the U.S. have shown that marriage takes the hit and undue strain when one or both spouses are victims of child sexual abuse. I believe that the Achilles heel of Indian marriages is rampant child sexual abuse which has been going on for generations. If, one out of two Indians need to heal from child sexual abuse to regain their well being to thrive to their full potential, then it mathematically follows that in 3 out of 4 marriages, one or both spouses have been a survivor of child sexual abuse. The scars of this crime play out in the most intimate relationship called “marriage” which is not surprising.
Because it is still a “taboo” in Indian society, Indians are clueless and least prepared to tackle this problem. India is fifty years behind U.S. but is catching up fast on these social issues. Stolen vows and stolen tomorrows go together like a double-headed serpent. In his recent book, Stolen Tomorrows (2007), Steven Levenkron, psychotherapist in New York writes, “We need to understand that the abuse has life-long effects. That those who have suffered abuse cannot simply brush it aside and move on. The specific day by day power of the abusive experiences and their power to rob the developing person of a healthy future have not been fully recognized by the public. It is my hope that they will become common knowledge and used to increase prevention.”
Indians are sitting on a sleeping volcano and India is waking up now. The Indian media is in action to educate the public about the horrific effects of this crime and ways to prevent it and to transform a survivor to become a thriver. In a bold progressive move, the Indian Supreme Court has declared that not reporting of child sexual abuse is a crime itself. And, the Home Ministry of India has ordered all states to set up special courts this year to expedite cases involving child sexual abuse.
Lisa Monaco Gonzales, Author, Speaker, Child Safety Advocate, founder, Darkness to Light, a non-profit in the US, states, “Sexual abuse can negatively impact every part of a victim’s life. The real tragedy is that it robs children of their potential, setting into motion a chain of events and decisions that follow the victim throughout his or her life.”
She further questions, “If one or both individuals in this marriage, as a couple, suffer in silence, how could this couple grow in their relationship with secrets?. How does this couple heal together, if they cannot even heal on their own? And if they don’t address it, the cycle of abuse can continue.”
India faces a major nation building task. The healing is possible but it will not be easy. You may find these web resources very valuable in empowering and educating yourselves.
Ravi Sahay is an adjunct faculty member at the Sperling School of Business at the University of Phoenix, San Diego Campus, California USA. He also speaks on health and well-being. His articles have been published on this topic In “Youth Ki Awaaz” and you can read it at
He can be reached at [email protected]