Abuse is a term used for physical or emotional harm that is caused to another person. Abuse is used to depict any sort of torture inflicted upon a child or an adult. There are different types of abuse, out of which the most common ones are sexual abuse, child abuse, and domestic abuse. Not only are these the most common ones but also those which are hardly reported. In this article, the focus will be on sexual abuse with children in relation to India.
Sexual abuse is undesired or unconsented sexual behavior towards a person. This is either an unwanted touch, whistling, and even rape. As a child of 4-5 years old, our parents have taught us not to talk to strangers. So our trust circle remains our families and close relatives. But what if those relatives whom we consider trustworthy, actually take advantage of our innocence? In many cases of sexual abuse, family members have been the perpetrators but parents ask their children to bury it. The fact that not only can we not trust our relatives, but also that our pillars of strength would rather bury such a major happening can break us down mentally. This can cause anyone, and especially a child to lose all trust from any one around them. Not only will they start isolating themselves, they will also remain shut about any similar happening.
The mental health of a person after suffering from sexual abuse may vary from person to person, but it will affect each survivor equally. In the case of an infant, the repercussions of the incident may be seen later on in life while adults may show more immediate effect. In close knitted social networks like Indian families, complaining about a family relative misbehaving might lead to either our parents saying “that’s not possible” or “he/she must have done it in a loving manner. Don’t talk about this to anyone else”. Parents would either deny the abusive behavior, or ask us not to talk about it as it might give a bad reputation to the family. The family’s name in society is prioritized before a child’s safety. This gives a boost to the perpetrators as they are considered more trustworthy than one’s own children.
Sitting on laps, being pampered, being kissed or cuddled without consent are all forms of sexual abuse. But the consent of a child is deemed void because “they’re only kids”. Children are not dumb. If they say no to any of the above mentioned it is either that they don’t like to be cuddled, or they are uncomfortable with any physical contact. A parent needs to keep the comfort of their child before any uncle or aunt taking the child into their lap. The concept of consent applies to children and adults equally. Children are the purest souls and if they say something which accuses someone of a wrong touch or move, they need to be blindly trusted. The honor of one’s family does not come before our immediate family. The family name does not matter if a family member isn’t respected as much as a label that is given to us at birth. A label which we have no control or choice over. A label taken from our by-gone ancestors can never be as important as the living flesh and bones which will continue that label.