In the Indian society, coming out as a survivor of child sexual abuse is really difficult. We live in a society where blaming the victim is a norm. It is a problem that is hardly discussed in Indian homes. We talk about sexual harassment of women but often forget that children are also sexually harassed.
There are very few cases that are registered for child sexual abuse (CSA) in India. This is evident from the fact that there was no nationwide law against child sexual abuse in India until 2012. In the Indian context, 53% of children are sexually abused, according to a survey conducted in 2007.
It is the need of the hour to break the silence around child sexual abuse.
This issue gained popularity once media hype was created. Kalki Koechlin was the first celebrity to break the silence as she talked about being sexually harassed herself. At that time she did not talk about it because she had a fear of embarrassment regarding what society would say about her mother and herself. This is precisely where the problem lies. Many of us have been sexually harassed as a child, at some time or the other, but we do not come out and share this with our families as we fear that this would bring disgrace to our families.
The main task is to overcome the fear of embarrassment and humiliation and talk about the problem so that action can be taken.
Rahi, an NGO formed by feminists spreads awareness about CSA. It has created a supportive environment for the survivors.
It is not only the physical trauma that the survivor undergoes but also the mental trauma that does not let the survivor talk about it. Children try to hide the dreadful secret and suffer in silence, experiencing fear, anger, depression, helplessness and betrayal. They are often unable to verbalise their feelings.
If the survivors speak about it, they can be helped in coming out of the trauma.
There are various long term effects a survivor may face. It is, therefore, important to spread awareness of and overcome the taboos associated with CSA.