Yes, this story is about child sexual abuse.
It is painful to grow up as a girl child in an Indian family. When I was seven years old, I was molested by my cousin brother. After that, I remember many people- a driver of a rented car, a neighbour, mom’s relative, dad’s relative or my tuition teacher who molested me. I felt like a thing which was getting used by everyone. Not just me, this is the story of many children in India who are not safe even in their own houses!
This story started in my house. Hey! Rakshya Bandhan has come again! Did you celebrate with your siblings and cousins? I use to get pretty excited every year for Raksha Bandhan. I don’t have a brother, only a sister. But my uncle (father’s brother) has two sons. From the moment I started getting to know my family, my parents had said to me, “Don’t ever say that you don’t have a brother, because you have two elder brothers- your uncle’s son”. They are my brothers, I was told from childhood. I used to feel safe around them and felt protected.
They took me with them to play games in lonely rooms, whatever they did at that time they explained to me: “This is the part of the game”. I was only a seven-year-old child who thought I was safe with my brothers. As I grew up, I realised what they did to me was not a game. But I did not know whom I could speak to about this. I had many questions in my mind like- How can I tell this to my parents? Will they believe me? etc. When I was in my 8th standard we went to our village with my mom at some festival.
My cousin was caught molesting me one night by my mother. She scolded him and confronted his parents about this situation. But as we know in Indian families ‘boys are always right’, their parents started blaming me instead. I was sleeping with my mom and this happened to me and I did not have any idea what was going on. I was blamed for not knowing! After this incident, both the families were estranged, and I mustered the courage to tell everything to my parents. They listened to everything and empathised with me.
After five years, both families patched up and started meeting again. My parents forgot what had happened to me and asked me to be civil with them. At that time my sister had completed matriculation and my uncle invited her to their home to celebrate; because she had gotten a first class result. My parents allowed her to go to the village and stay there for a week. After coming back, my sister was visibly upset for a long time. Again at the time of a festival, they invited us to come to the village.
My mother asked us to accompany her, but I made an excuse that I had an exam and could not go. But my sister asked me to never go to the village again hearing this my mom scolded her. I asked my sister what was wrong and why was she so upset? She said to me, “the elder brother molested you and the younger did the same to me”. I told everything to my parents and they confronted them again. Once again we both got blamed for what happened to us.
My uncle’s family told my parents not to visit the village again because they did not have any rights there because we don’t have a brother who could inherit our father’s share in the ancestral property. Following this, my father filed a case, to obtain his share of the ancestral property, and also against my cousins for molesting me and my sister. The police gave the case to the village panchayat which supported my uncle at all times because my father was staying out of the village because of his government job and also because all the panchayat members were my uncle’s friends. After three years of panchayat meetings, the case went to judicial court and due to our legal system, it has been eight years of not getting any result.
When my marriage was fixed two years ago, my parents were forced to invite my uncle’s family because my father is younger than him, he had to invite my uncle fearing what society would say if he didn’t. They came to my wedding and I was forced to respect them, but this time, I refused. But those two brothers performed all the rituals for my wedding in place of my brother. Why do I have to accept them? Why does this society force me to compromise?
Immediately after my marriage, I told my husband everything and he supported me and I cut all ties with them. But my relatives are still trying to force me to talk to them. This year at my sister’s marriage, all our relatives again forced my parents but, I and my sisters stayed strong and didn’t allow my uncle’s family to attend the wedding. Owing to this, many of our relatives didn’t come to the wedding too. But we were happy this time because we had done it finally and we are not allowing ourselves to be used by them anymore. But why does the society always put pressure on us? Why does no one care about our feelings? What is our fault? Is it because we are daughters and not sons?
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at email@example.com. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.