Friday, 30 March 2007
In her book Bitter Chocolate, Pinki Virani emphasizes that, its got everything to do with "sexualized sex" or lust. My personal opinion supports the same view. It's just about sex, indiscriminate sex, a lot of it, too much of it. It's easy and it's our natural instinct, than why not? Believe me, they find nothing wrong with it- no sense of guilt, shame,repentance. For, in general, they don't end up abusing a child by accident. They want to do it, that's why they do it. It's as simple as that, and when asked , probably they will tell you the same.
It boils down to that basic argument of what's special about being human, being as we are, gifted with a hugely developed brain, which makes us think and decide for ourselves what's more important- the pleasure of the moment or "self limitation"? Which one does one choose, sexual gratification or the spiritual gratification that comes from being able to restrain ones desires? The former is much easier! That's it. So more and more people are giving up on the more difficult path and choosing the easier one. And as the darkest side of human nature starts to rule, the world turns into a horror for the little ones that are the easiest to lay hands on. Even if we keep aside the perpetrators, in general there is this astoundingly "revolutionary" idea of "freedom" that is taking shape, especially among young people of today - be free, don't restrain yourself, follow your instincts. Huh, nothing wrong with it at all, just that people are doing that at the expense of what matters to every human soul at the end - self worth, what you feel about yourself within, as i already mentioned, a spritual satisfaction of having risen above oneself. What people overlook is that freedom includes self restraint! The two aren't at war with each other.
Following are relevant excerpts from Bitter Chocolate by Pinki Virani :
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author and winner of the Nobel, in a recent essay on the abuse of the world's environment, says,'It is difficult to bring ourselves to sacrifice and self-denial because in political, public and private life we have long since dropped the golden key of self-restraint to the ocean floor. But self-limitation is the fundamental and wisest aim of a man who has obtained his freedom. It is also the surest path towards its attainment. If we do not learn to limit firmly our desires and demands, to subordinate our interests to moral criteria, we, humankind, will simply be torn apart as the worst aspects of human nature bare their teeth. It
has been pointed by various thinkers many times: if a personality is not directed at values higher than the self, corruption and decay inevitably take hold. We can only experience true spiritual satisfaction not in seizing, but in refusing to seize. In other words: self-limitation.'
Doctors can find themselves as despairing when questioned why adults set upon children sexually. Dr. Rajesh Parikh is asked about the neurological basis for psychiatric disorders and the psychological manifestations of neurological disorders with specific reference to perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse in India. He replies ruefully, 'As a neuro-psychiatrist I would really like to believe that all these men are disturbed. I would like to think that all of them have personality disorders, that they are deviants or that they have low self-esteem. But this would not be right on my part because it is simply not true for all cases. Most adult males who sexually abuse children
are . . .' Dr Parikh searches for the word, 'They are . . .'
Dr Rajesh Parikh nods in agreement, 'I do not approve of the usage of strong language but yes, grown-up men who sexually molest children are . . .'
Dr Shekhar Seshadri's is a well-known name in the field of the Indian child's mental health, particularly in connection with Child Sexual Abuse. Ask him about perpetrators and he replies, 'There are those who have been sexually abused themselves as children although
this should not be used as the reason for perpetuation. There are a few who are genuinely mentally ill. There are the paedophiles and it would be a mistake to think that all paedophiles are mentally sick. There are those who have been misinformed that sex with a virgin or a child is the treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, Aids or impotence. And then there are the . . .'
He pauses, looking for a word which would describe such men.
'There is a reason why I would hesitate to use that word. It should not be seen as a categorization for someone to either keep perpetrating or stop himself from coming for psychiatric help so that he can desist.'
These bastards would form an overwhelming percentage of the males who sexually abuse children?
'Yes, these otherwise "normal" types who lead seemingly casual lives would form the largest chunk of adults who sexually abuse little bodies and minds. And most of them do it for no other reason than sex. That is really the basic thing. All the other stuff may, or may not, be present like power and domination, sexuality and its abuse, gender and patriarchy, class and caste. In my experience, the other
issues do come up but sex takes the prominent form. This sex element is the least discoursed phenomenon because it is the least understood.'
It is expected that when a man is plainly a bastard he will be honest about it and do everything for the wrong reasons. But perpetrators do not fit into any pattern; this is perhaps the most difficult thing to prove in court when he is a doting grandfather, an elderly gent, an ancient elder who prays with his wife and plays with his grandchildren. To the presiding judge this accusation is then an aberration, the alleged act a cooked up one since such behaviour would be inconsistent with the man's general behaviour. The benefit of the doubt is given to the perpetrator because he has his good reputation and social standing which must be protected at all cost. Including against the interests of the child; for this child there is nothing more damaging than the bastard's inconsistency.
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
I strongly believe that child sexual abuse is a crime and the victims of it suffer a life time of trauma for no apparent fault of theirs. I am going ahead with this topic assuming the person reading this believes the same and has a basic understanding of what constitutes Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).The reason they have to believe that CSA is a crime is because apparently there are some people who do not believe so. Some of them or many of them may even be perpetrators of CSA. From the very beginning I could not understand why there are some people out there who are perverse enough to sexually predate on little innocent children. So I have been reading up literature to understand the psychology of the predator. The reason I wish to do this is because I feel it helps us to be on our guard against such people. Ignorance of the people around should be the last reason for a child falling prey to CSA.
Clearly there is something wrong with these people’s behavior more specifically their sexuality. It is disturbing. But how many of us actually understand what sexuality means and what is normal and what is abnormal. If someone asked us to define sexuality, I am sure most of us wouldn’t be able to do so. So I have referred a few sites and a book on psychology to get an insight into this term called Human sexuality.
“Human sexuality refers to the expression of sexual sensation and related intimacy between human beings, as well as the expression of identity through sex and as influenced by or based on sex. There are a great many forms of human sexuality (sexual functions). The sexuality of human beings comprises a broad range of behavior and processes, including the physiological, psychological, social, cultural, political, and spiritual or religious aspects of sex and human sexual behavior. Philosophy, particularly ethics and the study of morality, as well as theology, also address the subject. In almost any historical era or culture, the arts, including literary and visual arts, as well as popular culture, present a substantial portion of a given society's views on sexuality. In most societies and legal jurisdictions, there are legal bounds on what sexual behavior is permitted. Sexuality varies across the cultures and regions of the world, and has continually changed throughout history”-wikipedia
That is a very long and subjective definition. So a person’s sexuality is expressed through his actions and behavior.” Human sexual behavior is behaviors that human beings use when seeking sexual or relational partners, gaining approval of possible partners, forming relationships, showing sexual desire, and coitus” -wikipedia. Now gaining approval of possible partners is a part of almost every sexually reproductive animal species, and every human culture. Now approval can come only from an informed person and who understands his/her sexuality and what is being asked of him/her. That is there has to be informed consent from the person who is being engaged in the sexual activity.
“What are the criteria for deciding that the information the child has makes him/her suitably informed? Which is why, the world over and in India too—after extensive surveys, studies and professional opinion on the intelligence and emotional quotient of teenagers—it is generally prescribed that all those sixteen years of age and below are to be considered as incapable of informed consent? These children, even if teenagers at sixteen have not formed certain defences inside themselves, like older people.”-bitter chocolate
So children can not be objects of sexual love because they are simply not capable of informed consent. Now coming back to sexuality, there are some psychological disorders of sexuality which are discussed below.The reason i have decided to discuss all the paraphilias is to get a more comprehensive picture of the whole problem.
“When unusual or bizarre imagery or acts necessary for sexual arousal (that is, when arousal cannot occur without them) do such preferences qualify as a disorder. Such disorders are termed paraphilias, and they take many different forms.(Psychology 5th edition-Robert A.Baron)
Exhibitionism: Sexual urges or arousing fantasies involving exposure of one's genitals to an unsuspecting stranger
Voyeurism: Recurrent sexual urges or arousing fantasies involving the act of observing an unsuspecting person who is naked,disrobing, or engaging in sexual activity.
Fetishism: Sexual arousal or persistent fantasies about or actual use of nonliving objects
Sadism: Sexual arousal or fantasies about or from engaging in actions or dominating or beating another person
Masochism: Sexual arousal or fantasies about or from engaging in the act of being dominated,humiliated,or even beaten
Transvestic Fetishism: Intense sexual urges and arousing fantasies involving cross dressing (dressing in the clothing of the other sex)
Frotteurism: Sexual urges involving touching or rubbing against a non consenting person.
Necrophilia: Sexual obsession with corpses.
Klismaphilia: Sexual excitement from having enemas.
Coprophilia: Sexual interest in feces.
Zoophilia: Sexual gratification from having sexual activity with animals.
The most disturbing of all is Nepiophilia aka infantophilia is the sexual attraction towards babies and toddlers (aged 0-4/5 years)
Pedophilia (Pedo means "child" in Greek. Phile is a derivative of Greek, Latin, and French, meaning "love."), in which individuals experience sexual urges and fantasies involving children, generally ones younger than thirteen.
Ephebophilia has been defined as a sexual preference in which an adult is primarily or exclusively sexually attracted to pubescent adolescents.”
People might suffer from one of these or more than one. The last three categories are psycho-sexual disorders and people who suffer from these conditions are attracted to children. Some people are exclusive pedophiles who are they are attracted only to children and there are non-exclusive pedophiles who are attracted to both adults and children (Like how bisexual people have a preference for people of both the sexes). Now these people are not normal and because their desires involve the abuse of a child’s innocence they have to be kept away from children.
In the next post i will discuss more on the topic of pedophilia and how to identify pedophiles.
Tuesday, 27 March 2007
How many cases do you need? Apart from myself, I personally know atleast 5 survivors among my own friend circle, all my loved ones, abused by close family members, right under the nose of their parents. There are hundreds of stories shared by survivors on different websites. Would their stories make a difference to you? I don't know. Maybe stories of famous people - people whom you are awed by, your role models - their stories would hit the right chord. You can't imagine how many of them had been victimized as kids. IT CAN BE DONE TO JUST ANY CHILD, BY ANY MAN.
Let me quote what Pinki Virani says in Bitter Chocolate:
"My research has led me to the works of internationally renowned authors, and others, who have been sexually abused as children. Oprah Winfrey. Maya Angelou who was sexually abused by her mother's partner. 'Mr Freeman
lived with us, or we lived with him (I never knew quite which)' she writes in I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings; Maya first felt something which was 'too soft to be a hand' and was raped by 'a mush-hard thing'. Freeman was acquitted by the court because Maya could not find the words as he stood glowering at her, he was murdered a few hours after leaving the court; the child in Maya simply
stopped talking as a result, well until she was a young adult.
The singer Billie Holiday in her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues reveals that she was raped when she was ten by a forty-five-year-old man. Quentin Bill's biography of his famous aunt, the writer Virginia Woolf, says that she was sexually abused from the age of six in her nursery by her stepbrother Gerald Duckworth and then by his brother George Duckworth from 1888 to 1904, well until she was in her twenties, even as they sexually abused her sister, Vanessa, as well. Centuries of denial and the public's disinclination to speak about the problem except in the most lurid of cases was overcome in America when the former Miss America of 1958, Marilyn Van Derbur Atler, publicly announced in 1989 that she had been sexually abused by her millionaire and socialite father from the time she was five, and right through until the age of eighteen. This led to literally thousands of adults who had been sexually abused in their childhood speaking out too. "
The list goes on...Latino rock guitarist Carlos Santana, Edgar Allen Poe, Edith Wharton, Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock...
To recognize CSA and acknowledge its existence within familes. That in itself is such a herculean task. Is any other social issue so unrecognized as this? It destroys lives, precisely one among every 10 innocent lives in India at any given time ( according to WHO). Sit back a while and reflect on that figure. Notwithstanding the fact that most of the cases at home go unreported, can you even begin to imagine what a hell we have made for ourselves around us? Still, the least effort has gone into addressing this issue. How to deal with a problem which has existed for centuries, woven its way deep into our daily existence, feeding itself on the gaping drawbacks of our familial culture, without being challenged at all?
Extremely difficult. But it has to be dealt with. CHALLENGE IT. If you sense anything wrong is being done to a child, DON'T ignore it. Punish the offender, and more importantly, support the wronged child. Ensure that your child is safe, both at home and outside. Empower you children to protect themselves. These are what the few organizations focused on CSA are all working towards. Otherwise, it will silently destroy another life, and then another one, and another...
Monday, 26 March 2007
`It cuts across economic, social, and class barriers'
- Menace defined under different categories
- Child protection a low priority area
NEW DELHI: Child abuse is widely prevalent in the country and close to 50 per cent face some forms of exploitation irrespective of their background, according to the National Child Abuse Study, the first of its kind on child abuse.
Conducted by Prayas, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) for the Ministry of Women and Child Development, in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children Fund, the study suggests that 30 per cent are sexually abused by relatives or known persons, nearly 50 per cent are emotionally abused, 40 per cent physically and 60 per cent economically (including child labour).
"This is the largest study on child abuse in India and the findings are being analysed by a Drafting Committee set up by the Women and Child Development Ministry before a final conclusion is arrived at," Prayas general secretary, Amod Kanth told The Hindu .
Until now it was presumed that child abuse was prevalent only among street children or those in juvenile homes and orphanages.
But the study has shown that it cuts across economic, social, and class barriers. Only the forms of abuse are different, Mr. Kanth said.
While a child born in a well-to-do family may not face economic and physical abuse, he or she is prone to sexual and emotional abuse, the ones born under difficult conditions are vulnerable to all kinds of exploitation, he explained.
The study, likely to be released by the end of this month, will be presented when the United Nations reviews the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) later this year.
According to the survey, more than 40 per cent of the children have faced corporal punishment and at least 5 per cent of the respondents have resorted to substance (drugs) to cope with the sexual or physical trauma they were subjected to.
Child abuse has been defined under different categories such as emotional that includes gender-based discrimination; sexual abuse that can range from fondling to rape; economic abuse as forced labour and physical abuse when force is used by people in position, be it parents or teachers.
Covering 13 States including Delhi, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the survey interacted with about 16,800 children. Of these 13,000 were below 18 years, 3000 young adults (18-25 years) and about 800 stakeholders like the NGOs and those involved with children's issues.
The study clearly brings out that child protection is a low priority area in the country with only a minuscule percentage of the annual expenditure (Rs. 215 crore last year) being spent on children.
Rs. 2,000 crore sought for scheme
However, this time round the Women and Child Development Ministry has sought Rs. 2,000 crore under the Eleventh Five Year Plan for implementation of the ambitious Integrated Child Protection Scheme.
The study is expected to pave the way for the speedy implementation of the Scheme. There are close to 35 million children in the country living under difficult conditions, one-third of whom are destitute. In contrast, the total availability of shelters in the government and private sector is only for 36,500 children.
Importantly, there is hardly any provision for children in the age group of 6-18 years while those below 6 years are covered under the Integrated Child Development Scheme.
Saturday, 24 March 2007
Sexual Abuse in childhood is much more than the violation of a tiny body; it's the betrayal of trust, love, respect and the power the adult enjoys over the child. It's the rape of an entire childhood, in Pinki Virani's own words, and she couldn't have been more apt. Have you any idea how intolerably bitter it is? The child is torn apart by an ocean of conflicting emotions, which find no expression, no vent. How can one imagine that Pinki Virani ( a survivor of CSA herself) would choose to keep her emotions at bay? Why would she choose to minimize the horror which one in every four girls and one in every seven boys in India ( according to a study conducted by WHO) live through? Why would she choose to smother the shocking effects CSA invariably has on adults, sometimes for an entire lifetime? Why would she choose to mellow it down for the society, which is too clogged up with taboos, restrictions, backwardness, prejudice, false images of itself and superficialities to open its eyes to the truth which has been glaring right at its face for ages? What's wrong in giving the true picture? Why are people so afraid to face it?
The issue badly needed to be addressed the way she has done it, and I am grateful to her. People have to understand and take it in the right way. The anguish that underlines the book is not negative, but an effective way to jolt people out of their long and deliberate slumber. I can so completely relate to that anguish. It's time we wake up to the reality.
And here comes the golden question. Why am I making such strong statements? Why have I been single-mindedly pursuing the idea of creating a forum like JAAGRITI? My friends have asked. I have chosen not to give the complete truth to most of them. People have been guessing, speculating, inferring. The reason seems to matter a lot, people always want to find out everybody's shit. Pardon my language, but i find the phrasing very appropriate. It's funny, the way other people's tragedies attract us, well, most of us!
I will give the truth, for I have no reason to keep silent. I have promised myself I won't be silent anymore.
So, today, March 24, 2007, at 10:45 pm, I let the whole world know that, yes, I AM a survivor of hard spectrum sexual abuse for the first fourteen years of my life.
And that's it. I don't want to say anymore here , because it's irrelevant. Does it matter? There are thousand others like me, and they are your loved ones. Try to know their story and give them some support which they badly need. I am through with my past, and I have mainly done it alone; it's over for me. I know how much I had needed support then, but drove away anyone who tried to come close. So look around you, let not another child go through what I had to. That's all I am trying to do. That sentence sums up my answer to all the "whys" I have been asked. "Let not another child go through what I had to".
Let me make it very clear that my personal experience maybe the reason for my passion. But the validation of my pain is NOT the purpose of my efforts. It goes much beyond, it's far greater, and their is no negativity involved. I couldn't have taken up this cause with a more positive spirit. Making a difference is all that I want to do, absolutely impersonally. It came to me in a flash, after I had read Bitter Chocolate. It's this book that initiated me into my process of healing. I just knew, in my heart I just knew that I have to do a lot of things. And I better start it asap. I had never felt so positive, so energetic, so empowered before. That's the origin of Jaagriti.
But I won't be unfair to myself either. I won't belittle any aspect of what I have been through. I will tell it all. But not here, I will say it in the right place, and at the right time :) Although I have left my past behind, the process of healing I am going through right now is more difficult than I had imagined. But I am enjoying it, growing slowly with every passing day. Rather interesting, but you will have to wait for it, friend! Right now I am comfortable with taking refuge in my silence.
So coming back to Bitter Chocolate, Pinki Virani sheds all inhibitions as she takes us through every aspect of the issue in three notebooks - what is CSA( which in itself is an ambiguous and much-debated topic), why and how it happens, all the statistics,its crushing after-effects, two heart wrenching real-life stories, practical solutions including a detailed legal research, role of parents, and a special chapter for survivors who haven't disclosed their trauma to anyone yet.
It's a complete, comprehensive and powerful work on the issue. I congratulate her and thank her with all my heart.
It will hit you hard, but that's what is required now. For it's getting late. Why have we made such a society for ourselves where one gender lives under constant physical/sexual threat? All of us are responsible, let's face it. I will quote Pinki Virani's lines:
"Damn it, so much power abused, so much trust betrayed,
where are the parents of these children? The politics of
domination, the vulnerability of a woman, the girl's very
gender being a liability to herself as a human being: damn,
damn, damn, a young woman can never really say what
she wants to, wear what she wants to, go where she
pleases; she cannot feel complete freedom because she is
always, always in sexual threat. And these little boys who
are being sexually abused by the males in their own homes;
why are protectors turning predators?"
Over the next few days I will quote excerpts from Bitter Chocolate and discuss them. All comments and contributions are eagerly awaited.
India's National Commission for Children on Monday backed tough measures to protect children from abuse.
Its chairperson Shanta Sinha said children should become a part of national conscience to prevent abuse.
Her biggest tool could be the new Child Protection Bill. The draft of the Bill is awaiting approval by the Cabinet.
Forty-two per cent of India's population are children and crimes against them will soon become a non-bailable offence.
"There is just no data, if we don't know how many children are victims, how will we formulate policies?"
According to the draft of the Child Protection Bill: It will be compulsory for doctors, teachers and social workers to report cases of child abuse to the authorities.
Sources say while exploitation of women and crimes like rape have stringent laws there is little protection for boys from abuse – an area that the new bill will address.
The current laws also do not recognise exploitation of children either through sex tourism, child labour or violence against children including emotional abuse or instances like deliberate starvation.
Sinha says children between 0-6 age group are not on anyone's radar "Children of all ages are important till six years of age.
"Till now laws related to children have had minimal impact.
But recent incident involving murder and rape of children in Nithari near Delhi exposes the inability to protect them from abuse.
( Source: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/askios-activists/)
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