"Two men drank, watched porn and then lured a five year old from her play area using a chocolate as bait. They kept her in captivity in a rented room in the same building where she lives with her parents and systematically raped her, in turn, for three days. Her cries led neighbours to find her locked in the room, bruised and bleeding. By then, the two men had fled, thinking they had left the child for dead."
An innocent child, oblivious to the ways of this world goes about his daily life in his own playful naïve manner. Blissfully ignorant, children are full of carefree laughter and play, unmarred by dark adult realities.
Earth shattering realities, which even an adult who has seen it all, would never want to experience, however, can change it all. Life is difficult as it is, with ruthless, rude, aggressive and offensive behaviour very common and acceptable parts of our lives. Burdened with responsibilities and sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles adults have learnt to survive by becoming hard hearted cynics and skeptics.
But children, born unaware and innocent, who only want to be loved, accepted, and learn, trust and love everyone in their lives unconditionally. Little do they know that their simple, uncomplicated and joyful lives can be turned upside down in no time at all.
A child is the most precious gift of this world. As parents of two boys, my husband and I have never raised a hand to our children. Screaming and shouting at them leaves us guilty and remorseful. The look on their faces and my younger son’s words (Mama, please don’t shout…please be nice) reduce us to tears, each time we raise our voices.
How then can this most valuable and priceless of humanity’s gifts be ill treated, physically, emotionally and sexually abused or even raped. The thought that someone can scream uncontrollably, be brutal, hit, kick, be violent and use a child to gratify their own perverse sexual desires is incomprehensible. It makes me shudder to even envisage what that pure innocent soul would have gone through.
How then is child abuse and rape so common? How then is it so easy for most of us i.e. adults to overlook, to minimise, to explain away, or to disbelieve that child abuse and rape is so prevalent. Physical and sexual abuse of a child is considerable trauma that affects every part of the child’s being: spiritual, emotional, mental and physical. It damages the spirit and silences the child within. The soul is deeply scarred and tarnished never to go back to its original joyous self.
A child is entirely dependent on adults for his needs and his safety and for nurturance and guidance. However, this vulnerability is exploited by many and children are easily targeted. Maybe it is the ease with which children can be subjugated and the fact that they trust easily that makes them easy targets.
“Molesters Do Not Wear an Ugly Mask. They Wear A Shield of Trust.”
Patty Rase Hopson
Who knows what goes on in the minds of those who see beyond the innocence and the beauty of childhood? Their distorted, sick and uncontrolled needs and wants leave a child a bundle of “nothing”, considering himself unworthy—unworthy of respect, unworthy of friendship, unworthy of the natural birthright of all children: love and protection.
The statistics are shocking.
- 53% of children in India are subjected to sexual abuse, but most don't report the assaults to anyone.
- Out of 69% children physically abused in 13 sample states, 54.68% were boys.
- Out of those children physically abused in family situations, 88.6% were physically abused by parents.
- 50% abusers are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.
- Nearly 65% of schoolchildren reported facing corporal punishment — beatings by teachers — mostly in government schools.
- 48.4% of girls wished they were boys.
The research that I undertook to write about this topic has left me dumbstruck. The worst of it being that Indians remain in denial of it all. In a country where familial values ensure that a child is the most important member of a household, it is appalling that the home is where the Indian child and woman is most unsafe.
What then should we do to make sure our children remain safe and protected? On my part I talk to my boys regularly, educate them, empowering them to say no and pray, but is it enough? How many nights will I toss and turn thinking and knowing that anything can happen and I may not even come to know about it.
“No one keeps a secret so well as a child”.
So, for now I am a terrified and anxious mother hoping that her children will be safe and trying to do her best to ensure that they are out of harm's way and loved. I also hope that my children trust our relationship enough to know that they can share and their parents will be there for them whatever happens.