As such, Indians are interested in everybody’s personal life, be it their relationships, visitors at home, dresses and almost everything. Even recently, when Sushant Singh Rajput died, people wanted to see everything, be it his dead body or his parents interview. People know everything that happens inside someone’s house, then why don’t they bother when there is a case of domestic violence? Ironically, in that case, they say — it’s a personal matter!
Whenever we talk about domestic violence, we only think about women, but hardly about children. Like there is an Act for domestic violence against women, but there is no law that particularly deals with domestic violence against children.
In India, a majority of people justify violence against kids because they think it the only way to teach them ‘discipline’. Culturally, we are so used to these things that we treat them as normal. We think that two or three slaps and kicks are necessary to make a child disciplined. Indians acknowledge violence only when it gets out of control. I think this needs to be changed.
Even studies conducted by various universities show that use of physical discipline in childhood leads to behavioural problems in adolescence. Other studies reveal that regular physical punishments are more likely to make a child aggressive. And yet others reveal that physical punishment decreases cognitive abilities, achievements etc. So, scientifically speaking, it’s not good to indulge in violence against children. We need to find different ways of inculcating discipline.
Not only can they feel detached from parents, develop suicidal tendencies, and become depressed, but also develop criminal tendencies and what not!
Indulging in violence with the intention of teaching discipline does not make for the worst sort of cases though, because in these cases, elders still want what’s good for children. More serious are the cases where people indulge in violence against their children to release their frustrations. Some do it after consuming alcohol, others even resort to sexual violence.
I still remember Kailash Satyarthi’s KBC episode, in which he narrates the story of a father who used to sexually abuse her daughter, daily. There are millions of similar instances. Smita Bharti, the Executive Director and President of Sakshi, a rights-based NGO, told The Logical Indian, “It is very difficult to find out about child sexual abuse or offer any kind of support, because 90% of the cases happen with trusted people inside the family.” These figures are disheartening.
Some even beat girls of their family for interacting with boys or having a boyfriend. This only goes on to show how regressive their mindset is. I understand that this is done because of ‘safety concerns’, but is this the right way to deal with such concerns? By resorting to violence, you can coerce them into not doing something. But can one really bring about a change of heart? No! I fail to understand the point then.
A study conducted by UNICEF titled Parenting Matters revealed shocking things, the most shocking amongst them being a breakdown of the 30 forms of violence and abuse that are practised in Indian households. Let’s take a look at them:
Shocking, isn’t it? This also shows that violence and abuse need not always be physical. They can be verbal or emotional.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought so many families together. We come across so many quarantine videos, games, cooking sessions etc. Many of us are enjoying this phase so much, but we seldom think about what is happening to those who are living in abusive homes? This “Quarantine fun phase” has become the “Quarantine nightmare phase” for them because they are basically trapped inside hell.
You would be shocked to know that the childline helpline received more than 92,000 SOS calls asking for protection from abuse and violence in the first 11 days of the lockdown, a sombre indication that the lockdown has turned into extended captivity not just for many women, but also for children trapped inside their homes with their abusers. Where on one hand, some children are enjoying this quarantine like their summer vacations, for other kids, this is experiencing the worst phase of their lives!
The Supreme Court took suo-motu cognisance of the situation when a letter was written to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India by two lawyers, Summer Sodhi and Aarzoo Aneja. The Supreme Court held that since COVID-19 is intensifying in India, it is important that urgent measures be taken on priority basis to prevent the spread of the virus to child care institutions. The apex court has directed measures, which have to be taken by child welfare committees, the Juvenile Justice Board, children courts and the government.
We shouldn’t forget that these are cases that have been reported to the authorities. But what about the cases that aren’t even reported? What about those people who are not even aware that domestic violence is an offence? Even if they are reported, how many get proved? Do they even find witnesses? What about the cases where even the mother is violent and abusive? Imagine the situation of children in that situation!
This will not stop unless and until there is a change in our cultures. Not only do we normalise violence against children, we also find it funny. We laugh when we see such violence in movie scenes. In such a situation, how can we expect change? We need to change ourselves first and then sensitise others.
There’s a child helpline run by the Ministry of Women and Child Development- 1098. It’s operational 24*7 and is free of cost. Anyone can call on this number, be it the child themselves, family members, concerned adults etc. On top of this, many State governments are operating whatsapp numbers for the same. A lot of NGOs are also working hard to ensure that every child remains safe. All it takes to save a child from being abused is a call. Let’s do our bit.
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.