Saturday, 18 October 2008

What Will Happen to the Children

Column by Tara Overzat - Sep 22, 2008
Children who are physically or sexually abused suffer massive mental trauma. Their past, however, does not seal their fate — as former victims like Oprah Winfrey, C. J. Walker, and Joseph Moderow can attest.

Twice in one week. A family in Lavonia, Georgia, (on the South Carolina-Georgia border) and one in Jackson, Alabama. Horrific stories of abuse and imprisonment of two families — one with four children, the other with eight.

Raymond Daniel Thurmond kept his wife and four children locked up in a filthy double-wide trailer for three years. The mother and children were never allowed outside and were so well-hidden that the neighbors were not even aware that Thurmond had a family.

Anthony Hopkins had a wife and eight children. He told curious people in his community that his suddenly absent wife had died in childbirth. Recently, the police found what they think is her body in the man’s freezer. His eldest daughter whom he raped for years, is the one who finally went to the police.

The media will pay attention to these stories for about a week, then TruTV and Nancy Grace will pick these stories up again when they go to trial. Then, they will vanish altogether. After we are satisfied that the bad guy has gone to jail (hopefully for good), we will flip on the game, or watch TMZ. We will lose interest.

But whatever becomes of those tortured children? It is hard to believe that a human being — especially a child who is just learning about the world and developing as a person — witnessing and experiencing such events will grow up to be a normal and well-adjusted adult. Are all twelve of these children doomed to become abusers, drug addicts, rapists or murderers?

Not necessarily so. We hear about serial killers and other social degenerates who had horrific childhoods. And then there are the Menendez brothers, who grew up privileged and in a happy family. (The jury at their final trial did not believe the defense’s excuse that Erik and Lyle had been abused by their father.) Or Jeffrey Dahmer, whose childhood was middle-class and ordinary.

If it were true that bad parenting alone spelled disaster for a person’s life, then we would be hearing about the depraved acts of jailbirds’ siblings, who shared similar upbringings.

Some killers have bad parents. Some had great parents. Not all well-reared children will do the right things in life, nor will all badly parented children end up harming others.

Take for example, Oprah Winfrey. Her traumatic childhood consisted of being raped by her cousin at nine, and later by her uncle and another family member. She was pregnant by the time she was fourteen.

Despite these events, which would haunt even the strongest of people, she has become the richest female entertainer in the world, with a media empire that would have been unthinkable by her abusers.

Even before the world had heard of Oprah Winfrey, Madame C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) had worked herself up from a poor and traumatic childhood into a black, female millionaire by the turn of the twentieth century, at a time when blacks had few rights and as a woman she could not even vote.

Born into a former slave family and first married at fourteen, Walker eventually manufactured and sold hair products for black women — which no one was successfully doing at the time. At an NAACP convention, she famously said, “I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. I was promoted from there to the washtub. Then I was promoted to the cook kitchen, and from there I promoted myself.”

Joseph R. Moderow, Senior Vice President, General Council, and Board Member (retired) of the United Parcel Service (UPS) is another fine example of overcoming childhood abuse and financial instability. Moderow developed polio as a baby and, though he recovered, his childhood was fraught with pain, culminating in his father remarking that Moderow was a “disappointing failure who would never amount to anything in life.”

Moderow’s father never spoke to him again. With this lack of even basic emotional support from his family, Moderow’s life could have taken a turn for the worse. But he chose otherwise, becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college and attaining a noteworthy career.

Liberals will have you believe that these are just “Horatio Alger stories,” mythical events out of ordinary reach. This is not so. Not only is every human being sentient and capable of making choices that will better their lives, but there are people, famous and not, who have done so.
The liberal answer of placing government in charge of bettering your life does not work. A handout is never a hand up.

Oprah was not helped by the government. Laws existed at the time that were blatantly against the rights of black women like Madame Walker. Nor was Joseph Moderow helped when he worked a series of low paying, blue-collar part-time jobs in order to become the first person in his family to graduate from college.

The Thurmond and Hopkins children should take comfort in one thing. Your past does not determine your future. Does it influence it? Perhaps. But your past does not have the final say.
“Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.” —Vanilla Sky

Tara Overzat is a University of Florida graduate who formerly taught in Beijing, China. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia where she is a paralegal and freelance writer
[Thanks to Nikhil for the link to the article ]

Friday, 11 July 2008

Where trust has gone

I found this article in the Mumbai Edition of the HT Cafe recently. Click on the image to get a better view.

When the next generation is at stake (Part- II)

Just because it’s a secret, the horrific reality of sexual abuse in India does not stop being true. SONAM JAIN in Hyderabad
When 13-year-old Natasha tried telling her parents that she was being *inappropriately touched and fondled’ by her uncle, they did not believe her. Gradually, she started getting aggressive and developed an aversion towards people in general and boys in particular. She became so difficult that she had to drop school for some time.
In yet another incident six-year-old Preity was sexually abused by her tuition teacher. Being too young to realise what was happening, she did not inform anyone. After repeated assaults, she lost interest in tuitions and then studies. Finally, she dropped school altogether. A brilliant girl’s academic career comes to an end.
These are not one-off cases. It’s just one of the cases we know of. Most incidents are locked up like skeletons in the cupboards. Just because it’s secret, the horrific reality of sexual abuse does not stop being true. Did you know that, in India, a child below 16 years is raped every 155th minute, a child below 10 every 13th hour, and one in every 10 children is sexually abused? Did you know that India has the dubious distinction of having the world’s largest number of sexually abused children? The situation is made worse by the absence of effective legislation and the silence that surrounds the problem.
Sexual abuse can take several forms — from verbal, visual, tactile, exhibitionist and pornographic offences and fondling to anything that stimulates a person sexually. The victims could be a boy or girl in any age group. Majority of sexual offenders are family members or are known to the child. “Stranger danger”, by comparison, is very rare.
Often, sexually abused children feel ashamed and may go into a shell. And if someone does muster the courage, they have ‘post abuse’ in store when no one wants to believe them. The blame may even come bouncing right back at them for ‘wearing such provocative clothes’.
Parents and mentors can definitely play a major role in preventing and dealing with abused children. Dr. P. Jyothiraja (psychologist and education consultant) says, “Talk to children about sexual abuse, listen to them, believe them, and recognise symptoms such as physical complaints and behavioural changes. Silence does not mean that all is well.”
Remember that a victim of abuse needs a lot of moral and emotional support. There should never be any justification of abuse by saying that he/she must have done something to provoke it. Isidor Philips, director, Divya Disha, feels that a whole lot of confusing messages are sent to people as children. “Children are often told to give relatives hugs and kisses. This is not always good. Let them express affection on their own terms. The *silence about sex’ culture forbids parents from talking to their children about sexuality. Hence, children and youth are confused about their own sexuality and have no idea about right or wrong touch. When they get a confusing signal, they have no source of support.” Sex education in schools is also productive.
In the meantime, with sexual abuse attracting public debate, the government needs to adopt strong measures. A larger response system needs to be created. For a country with nearly 50 per cent of its populace comprising children and youth, such measures are overdue.
Please click on the post title to see the actual article.

When the next generation is at stake

Just because it’s a secret, the horrific reality of sexual abuse in India does not stop being true. CASSANDRA SUNDARAJA and RACHEL ANUSHA J. in Chennai
Eighteen-year-old Smithi* was being sexually abused by her cousin Shyam*. When she summoned up the courage to confide in her mother, little did she expect this reply, “As long as you don’t get pregnant, don’t make it a big issue.”
In the light of such incidents, it is not surprising that sexual abuse of children and the youth is the biggest kept secret in India. A recent study by an organisation called Stop It Now ( revealed that only 12 per cent of the victims (both boys and girls) disclose being abused. Another study by Tulir - Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse ( notes that over 50 per cent of them were not helped, but instead disbelieved, blamed or told to keep it a secret.
So what is sexual abuse? The involvement of a child/teen in sexual behaviour by an older or more ‘powerful’ person, manipulating, persuading or forcing an individual to engage in any type of sexual act is called sexual abuse, in which both girls and boys are equally vulnerable. It also includes non-contact acts such as exposing one’s private body parts.
First, let us look at the legal aspects. In our country, sexual intercourse with a girl below the age of 16, with or without her consent, is considered rape. But, if a married girl above 15 years is forced to have intercourse with her husband, it is NOT considered rape. Contradicting all this are child marriage laws that prohibit marriage below the age of 18! Now does this make any sense?
Next is who is a child? In some cultures, anyone below 18 years is a child. Others believe that childhood ends at the age of 12. Let us assume that a child is below 12 years and a teenager or young adult falls between 13 and 18 years.
According to a National Study of Child Abuse by the Ministry for Women and Child Development, Government of India, 53.22 per cent of the population has faced sexual violence in some form or the other. Vidya Reddy, the founder of Tulir, stressed the importance of the ‘power dynamic’ involved in abuse. The abuser need NOT be an older person, but a more ‘powerful’ and authoritative one.
We need to clarify here that sexual harassment is NOT synonymous with sexual abuse. Sexual abuse, says Ms. Reddy, occurs in the context of a relationship in which trust, responsibility and authority play a major role. Around 95 per cent of the abusers are well known to the victim; in most cases it is a family member or a close family friend. The abuser can also be a servant, a driver, a baby sitter, a neighbour, an older child looking after a younger child. Authoritative abusers are usually teachers, coaches. In some cases all three factors are present.
Thirteen-year-old Jaya* was finding it difficult to cope with her swimming classes. Her coach offered to teach her “special exercises” and told her not to tell anyone because then he would not be able to give her undivided attention. Jaya, thrilled that her coach was showing special interest, readily agreed. The coach, taking advantage of the churning waters, sexually abused her (finger penetration) in the pool.
This incident also introduces the concept of grooming, a systematic and methodical process by which an abuser gains his or her victims’ trust, thereby reducing the probability of the abuse being reported. In some cases, the abuser gains the trust of the victim’s parents as well, making it even more difficult for the victim to complain.
Society’s ignorance and response to sexual violence against children and teenagers, which is considered “taboo”, discourages the victims from disclosing their abusive history. Emotional involvement is another reason why the victim might not complain or break the relationship. For example, a child who has witnessed domestic violence might grow up with the wrong notion that it is the norm to continue with the relationship despite the violence. Added to this, the media sometimes reinforces or exaggerates these real life incidents.
Sexual abuse may occur during childhood, but the effects can continue into adulthood. Peter* is 36 years, but finds it difficult to make important decisions and becomes an emotional wreck in a situation of crisis. The reason? His geography teacher inappropriately fondled him (masturbated him through his shorts) during class from his sixth standard till his 10th standard. The teacher used to ensure that Peter was always sitting alone in the last bench, thereby placing him in a helpless situation. The trauma of this incident continues to affect his everyday life.
Meera* detests the smell of mangoes, because she associates it with the memories of being raped by her grandfather, who used to smell of mangoes.
Most parents react at first with disbelief and denial. (“How could you say such a thing about Ramu Uncle?”). Some blame themselves (“Where did we go wrong?” or “How could this happen to our child?”). Still others turn a blind eye to such incidents. Most prefer to hush up the issue with an eye to the “future of the child” (and their social status). However, parents should start thinking of the here and now. The shame and guilt of hiding such incidents will eventually haunt the victim.
RAHI (Recovery and Healing from Incest;, an organisation in Delhi, arranges Peer Education programmes to equip college-going women with knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and beliefs in the area of incest and sexual violence. This is done with the view that teens are more likely to confide in their friends rather than in their parents or teachers. Major aspects include assuring the victims that they are believed; if the abuse continues, discreet steps will be taken to stop it; it is not their fault.
According to Ms. Reddy, a majority of the victims go through life believing they were the reason for the abuse. Also children who have been abused are more vulnerable to future abuse. Most victims think they are the only ones being abused and finding that others have faced similar trauma lightens their burden (visit Those unwilling to share their experiences can try self-help workbooks (contact Tulir at 26192026, 26190771).
What can we do? It is essential to voice your views as this is an important step towards stopping abuse and also contributes towards the healing process. An effective support and response structure in terms of family, friends, professional services, law and the society as a whole is essential so that the victims have a chance to address their problems. Most abusers do not stop only with one victim.
If you know or hear of a child/teen being sexually abused, do whatever it takes to ensure the child’s/teen’s safety and inform the parents about the child’s vulnerability. Just think, “What if it was ME or MY child?” Remember, every individual counts!
* Names changed to protect the privacy of the individual
Why they don’t complain
Fear of not being believed
Fear of being blamed
Fear of further harm
Fear of shame and guilt
Fear of losing love
Fear of remembering the incident
Boys as victims
This issue is not taken seriously. In one survey, out of 847 boys, 405 reported sexual abuse. Of that, 179 reported severe sexual abuse (sexual intercourse, oral sex, photographing them in the nude, asking them to touch the abuser’s private parts). Most boys will not report abuse due to the shame involved.
Role of adults
Parents should teach their children the age-appropriate names of all body parts (no more referring to any body part as shame, shame!). Only then will the child be able to report unsafe touches.
Children should be taught the difference between a safe and an unsafe touch.They should be taught that their body belongs to them and they have a right to say NO.
Create a non-judgmental atmosphere at home so that children will feel free to report untoward incidents.
Chapters on reproduction in biology books should be amply descriptive and teachers should explain the concept of sexual intercourse (no skipping pages 92-97!). This will prevent curious teens from getting information from inappropriate sources.
Start peer education programmes schools and colleges. Remember, more than half of the victims just need someone to talk to.
RAHI’s Peer Education Program (PEP) is a unique student peer intervention strategy that works with young women on Delhi’s college campuses for the prevention and healing of child sexual abuse. Students are selected from different colleges in Delhi and are trained as Peer Educators (PEs) over four days. Students learn the art of listening to a friend talking about his or her sexual abuse experiences, how to manage group discussions, make presentations and function as a team. The training is rounded off with some practical goal setting and a concrete plan of action. PEs design and lead educational activities for their peers. They organise debates, poster competitions, theatre events, workshops, book readings, and stalls during college fests. PEP was launched in October 2004. and has trained 86 students from 12 colleges who have reached over 12,000 students.

Cassandra and Rachel are IInd year students of B.Sc Psychology, Women’s Christian College, Chennai

Spreading Awareness

There seems to be growing awareness of CSA lately. I came across an entire (Well,almost!) supplement devoted to Child Sexual Abuse in the Chennai Edition of The Hindu. Clicking on the post title will take you to the e-paper.

“Sexual abuse can occur to anyone irrespective of age, caste, socio-economic status…,” cautions Nandi Shah of Ashraya, an organisation that works to spread awareness about sexual abuse among children.
It organises workshops in schools and colleges where “the students first react with giggles which, I presume, is because they are embarrassed about the topic. But once they settle in, they can be really open and discuss the issue,” she recounts. At the end of the workshop, the students are encouraged to interact and ask questions and different modules are made use of for different age groups.
Ashraya has also organised a photo exhibition based on the subject of sexual abuse and will showcase them at different educational institutions. A film addressing the issue also features in Ashraya’s to-do list.
Speaking on sexual abuse, Nandi observes, “The abuser can be a person known and trusted by the victim. Usually when the abuser is a person within the family, the abuse is hidden due to social taboos or just never surfaces. One can look out for the victim’s physical warning signs like being withdrawn, depressed and not trusting adults. In an incident of child sexual abuse, addressing the child and the immediate family is what I feel is of utmost importance.”
How is effective is the legislation? “I personally feel that laws in the state are not favourable to the issue of child sexual abuse,” says Nandi.For more details, call Ashraya at 9382832875.MADHUMITHA SRINIVASAN

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Petition for law against Child Sexual Abuse

Hey People,

Read the petition and sign if you agree. This would take just a couple of minutes.

Fight on!


Healing abused innocence

REACHING OUT Elaan, an NGO, is extending its hand to those whose childhood was marred by abuse just like its founder’s was. PAROMITA PAIN


CSA or child sex abuse is society’s darkest open secret. We know it happens and yet we shy away from it. Have you ever wondered what you would have done if it happened to you? Let’s hope its something like what Pranaadhika (22) in Kolkata did. She wowed that what she had to deal with should never be another young person’s lot and established Elaan, an NGO, to help victims of CSA. “I identify myself as a survivor of multiple child abuse, some of which is not necessarily sexual. Sometimes it takes a non-sexualised phase of abuse and neglect to erode your defence mechanisms and self-esteem. You perceive the actual sexual violation as punishment for being what you are: a worthless human being who didn’t finish her vegetables,” says Pranaadhika.

Born out of a nightmare
Elaan isn’t just testimony to this young woman’s courage. Itis a story of how the effects of abuse can be dealt with. overcome and instigate one to gain enough nerves to fight against sexual predators. “I knew it was strange the minute the abuse began. At age eight (when it first occurred), I felt strange hands on my body and instinct screamed danger. I knew that my trust, soul and, lastly, my body were being violated. It was difficult to deal with the reactions of people who I thought would support me. Many laughed and the so-called professionals were horrible. At some point my abuser appeared nicer than them, which was frightening,” she says.

Reflecting a journey of understanding and healing, Elaan is also the result of insight gained during her personal journey through the country’s legal system. “There are no laws which make CSA (Child Sexual Abuse) a crime punishable under the IPC. Research and conversations with close friends showed that they had been through some sort of abuse or knew of someone who had been abused. I was not responsible for what had happened. While most of the world has laws and support structures for survivors, India condones sexual abuse and incest,” she says.

Elaan was registered after three years of testing projects, re-assessing the need for CSA awareness and trying to heal personal scars. She isn’t alone in her quest and Elaan consists of two boards — voting and non-voting. Pujarini, Vijay, Rohit, Mirna, Ajoy Sinha, Bimbabati and many others form the team of crusaders. Kirtika Sinha, her mother, is the much-required ‘experienced elder’. Watching her counsel young people today, it’s hard to believe the things she has been through — “I cut myself routinely to appear as unattractive as possible. I developed bipolar disorder and tackled extreme phases of feeling unusually happy, and then plummeting into an emotional void. Relationships built painstakingly would crash, as people didn’t want to handle me.”

What is the toughest question a CSA victim has ever asked her? “One young boy asked me ‘Have you healed completely?’ That had me thinking for while as I tend to get absorbed in my work rather than in my own issues. After some introspection, I knew I was healing fine, but I can’t say I am 100 per cent healed. But I am not angry any more and I want to live as a happy person who makes other people happy. My response must have satisfied him because he became more positive in his own outlook,” she reflects. “I want fellow survivors to understand that it is both acceptable as well as cathartic to ‘vent’ emotion to the fullest instead trying to ‘make it nice’ for the public around.”

Today Elaan’s mission is to create awareness because aware knowledge will help society adopt an educated approach towards CSA. “We are trying to create an online database of our supporters, prospective volunteers and active participants. The information entered will not be shared with anyone. It helps us know that you’re with us,” says Pranadhikha. It may seem like a very small step but, trust Elaan, it’s an important one nevertheless. And after all said and done, “It was hard but I survived. I’m still here,” she grins.

[Source: ]

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Home alone and a soft target

17 May 2008, 0218 hrs IST,TNN

NEW DELHI: Soaring ambition has within its grip a young victim — the lonely child. Double income nuclear families, for all their progressive, self-assertive ways, are grappling with the predicament of leaving children at home, with sometimes, only a maid for supervision and company. With a steady erosion of the Great Indian Joint Family, children are now, more than ever, vulnerable to both physical and mental abuse.

An enraged Vikalp Verma, deputy manager with a city hospital, recounts how a maid from a placement agency had subjected his nine-month-old baby girl to physical torture. Both he and his wife Jolly (who works for an NGO) found it odd that their once cheerful child was clinging on to her mother at night and sleeping fitfully, wailing as they left for work and crawling towards them as fast as she possibly could, when they returned. They decided to install a web cam and soon discovered, that the maid, who was extremely polite in their presence, was hitting the child. "The 45-minute tape shook me up; she spanked my baby for crying out for a diaper change," says Vikalp, advising young parents to never depend on a maid totally.

Cruel domestic help is only part of the trouble. A child growing up outside the safety net of large families with grandparents and cousins, is subjected to unhealthy influences all the time. Like Lavanya Anirudh Verma, client services director at an ad agency discovered, when she and her husband were called to her seven-year-old daughter's school, because the child had used foul language in class. "I couldn't believe it," says Lavanya, "We never use foul language at home, so where was she picking it up from?" She later discovered that a group of older kids were using obscenities in the playground and decided to have a chat with her daughter instead of scolding her. "I told her that that it is a bad word, and some people do use it, but we don't." Both Lavanya and her husband believe that since kids nowadays are bombarded with spicy images on TV, and via the Internet, it's best to talk to them about the birds and bees, "good touch and bad touch" early. How early depends on when they start questioning, like their daughter did, when she saw an on-screen kiss. "I explained to her that only mummy and daddy can kiss you, everyone else has germs!" says Lavanya, voicing concern over how kids are also vulnerable to slobbery uncles within the family. A child, even at 3, should be able to say I don't like it when an uncle or older cousin touches him/her in a strange way.

Most working parents are hounded by the fear of child sexual abuse. Aruna Broota, a clinical psychologist and professor at Delhi University, recounts how one of her clients, a busy schoolteacher, left her six-year-old boy with the domestic staff — servant, driver, chowkidaar. "After the child's constant pleading, ‘Mummy, don't leave me', failed, he decided to take drastic measures and lock himself up in the bathroom. This compelled the family to investigate and they discovered, to their horror, that the child had been abused, time and again, by the male domestic staff."

"We need to be vigilant," warns professor Broota, citing web cams and closed-circuit TVs as a good way of monitoring what goes on in the house. However, she laments the passing of a time not too long ago, when there was enough people at home to ensure the safety of a child. "Neighbours too, were once friendly and reliable, but today, we don't even know who lives next door. And even if we do, we dont want them to interfere in our lives." She wonders where a child's park friends have disappeared, and believes that if children grow up with only Bahadur for company, they will become like Bahadur, with his mannerisms and crude language.

Working parents of teenage children have their own demons. Like Amal Sethi and wife Kishori, who head an ad agency, are constantly worried about their 16-year-old daughter. "As a parent, how does one keep control, without seeming like one is keeping control," he asks, emphasizing the teenage revulsion to interference of any sort. "How do I know that when she's off to the mall with a group of girls, she is actually with a group of girls!" he says. And while he believes he shares a strong bond with his daughter, he worries about her succumbing to peer pressure. "She talks about other girls in class who have boyfriends, and while I'm certain that she doesn't have one, how much can I continue to influence her decisions?" Grappling with the need to be open-minded while at the same time keeping a check on her, he regrets not spending enough time with his daughter.

Dr Amit Sen, psychiatrist, believes that working parents needn't be riddled with guilt, but should definitely be aware of the dangers of leaving a child alone at home. And while rape and murder are the most extreme forms of abuse kids are vulnerable to, neglect, criticism, and sexual overtures by "friendly" uncles are an equally real threat. He cautions working parents against sudden changes in a child's behavoiur, unexplained aggression or sudden sibling rivalry. For, a childish tantrum could very well be a cry for help.

[ Source: Click here ]

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Rapist pleads shorter jail term for using condom

Published on Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 13:26 in World section

Kuala Lumpur: A Malaysian of Indian origin, who was sentenced to 36 years in jail four years ago for repeatedly raping his minor daughter, wants his jail term reduced because he used a condom while committing the crime.

The rapist's lawyer SI Rajah told a court of appeals here that the sentence imposed by the lower court was excessive and the father was remorseful. "Justice should be tempered with mercy," the lawyer said.

Rajah told the court the sentence should be reduced since "the accused used a condom every time he committed the offence", the New Straits Times reported Saturday.

The three-member bench of the appellate court refused to overturn the lower court's judgement since it held that a strong message should be sent that such an act must not be condoned.

"You mean it is okay to rape using a condom?" a judge asked in anger.

Four years ago, the sessions court in Petaling Jaya sentenced the accused to a total of 36 years in jail on four counts of rape. The rapist, now 49, appealed against the sentence because he was a first-time offender.

The man raped his 11-year-old daughter between May 2003 and August 2004 when the child's mother used to be away at work.

Deputy public prosecutor Aslina Joned told the court that the accused, a father of five, had betrayed the trust of his daughter.

Aslina said the father would give the victim five ringgit ($1.5) as a reward every time he raped her. A class teacher noticed the girl was in a state of depression and questioned her.

The man was arrested Aug 12, 2004, after his daughter told her teacher about his crime. He pleaded guilty to the charges in the sessions court a week later.

On the first three counts, then Sessions Court judge Nurmala Salim sentenced him to 18 years in jail. The sentences were to run concurrently. He was sentenced to a further 18 years of imprisonment for the fourth count.

[Source: Click here]

Friday, 20 June 2008

30 Days in September - Play on CSA by Lillete Dubey, in Mumbai

Hi all,

Am pleased to share that Inner Courtyard is hosting a play by Lillete Dubey, '30 Days in September' to support Arpan's initiative of Spreading Awareness on Child Sexual Abuse. I would be very happy if you come to watch this play, an intense and gripping tale of love and betrayal that explores the brutal severance of the unbreakable bond between adult and child. A mother discovers the truth about her daughter, which sets them both on a journey of self discovery about their lives and their inextricably linked past.

Date: Friday, 20th June, 2008
Time: 7 pm - 8:30 pm
Venue: Y. B. Chavan Pratishthan Hall, opp. Sachivalaya, General Bhosle Marg, Mumbai 21

Adults only.

Please contact me or Anita on 9819051444 for free passes.

To read a review on the play please click below.
Brilliant performance and a heart moving tale. I hope to see you there!

best regards,
Pooja Taparia

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Woman charged with repeated sexual abuse of relative

Friday, June 13, 2008
BY Robert Wang

A Lake Township woman is accused of forcing an underage female relative in her care to repeatedly engage in sexual activity with her and her boyfriend.

Virginia Johnson, 38, of 12305 King Church Ave. NW, was arrested at her home around noon Wednesday, said Sgt. Dave Brown of the Summit County sheriff's investigations division.

Johnson faces felony charges of rape, permitting child abuse, sexual battery, disseminating material involving a minor and unlawful restraint, a sheriff's statement said. She's being held at the Summit County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond. Johnson is set to appear in Barberton Municipal Court on Wednesday.

Johnson's boyfriend, Stephan C. Brothers, 40, of Raber Terrace in Green, killed himself April 28, Brown said.

The suicide occurred six days after deputies raided Brothers' and Johnson's homes, seizing nine computers, hard drives, USB thumb drives, DVDs and three cameras. The sergeant said that investigators came across child pornographic images in the case, but he declined to elaborate.

Brown said the sexual crimes started in 2005 and occurred until this year at Brothers' and Johnson's homes. The investigation was launched April 18, when the girl visited a sheriff's station in Green to report what had happened. She gave deputies a USB thumb drive with images of her that showed her partially nude.

With the evidence, deputies got search warrants from the Summit County and Stark County Common Pleas courts and raided Brothers' and Johnson's homes April 22.

On April 28, a family member told deputies that Brothers had stopped answering his calls, Brown said. A deputy found Brothers dead in his garage, after he had pumped deadly carbon monoxide into his vehicle. According to his obituary, he was a 1986 McKinley High School graduate, a Navy veteran and a plumber. His death notice said he enjoyed roller skating with his son.

It took about six weeks for the Summit County Computer Crimes Unit to find enough evidence on the computers to obtain an arrest warrant for Johnson. Brown said someone had tried to delete data, but the unit was able to recover much of it.

When deputies swooped in to arrest Johnson in Lake Township, she put up no resistance, Brown said. Her mother was with her.

Johnson's attorney, Joe Gorman, could not be reached for comment.

Brown said investigators now are trying to determine if there are other victims.

The deputy said Johnson actively dated people through the Web site, and that investigators have spoken with people she met online. He said they have not found sufficient evidence that Johnson and Brothers were part of any interstate distribution of child pornography.

Brown declined to say whether pictures of the victim were posted online.

"She's looking at a long time," Brown said about Johnson. "This is one of the worst cases."

Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or e-mail:

[Source: Click here ]

Thursday, 17 April 2008


Millions of people worship Sai Baba as God incarnate. More and more say the Indian guru is also a pedophile.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Michelle Goldberg

July 25, 2001 | PUTTAPARTHI, India -- One of the most powerful holy men in India presides over the world's biggest ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam, or Abode of Peace, in a remote town located in a barren corner of Andhra Pradesh, a desperately poor state in a desperately poor country.

"Sai Baba was my God -- who dares to refuse God? He was free to do whatever he wanted to do with me; he had my trust, my faith, my love and my friendship; he had me in totality," says Iranian-American former follower Said Khorramshahgol. What Sai Baba chose to do with him, Khorramshahgol says, was to repeatedly call him into private interviews and order him to drop his pants and massage his penis. Other former devotees contend Sai Baba did even more. No matter -- in this part of the world, faith is absolute. Believers don't refuse God, and they don't question him.

The stories about Sai Baba's sexual misconduct are all remarkably similar. "During my 'private audiences' with Sai Baba, Sai Baba used to touch my private parts and regularly massage my private parts, indicating that this was for spiritual purposes," wrote Dutchman Hans de Kraker in a letter sent to French journalist Virginie Saurel. In December 1996, when de Kraker was 24, Sai Baba allegedly asked him to perform oral sex: "He grabbed my head and pushed it into his groin area. He made moaning sounds," de Kraker wrote. "As soon as he took the pressure off my head and I lifted my head, Sai Baba lifted his dress and presented me a semi-erect member, telling me that this was my good luck chance, and jousted his hips towards my face." When de Kraker reported to others what had happened, he was thrown out of the ashram.

American Jed Geyerhahn, who was 16 when Sai Baba started coming on to him, echoes de Kraker's account: "Each time I saw Baba, his hand would gradually make more prominent connections to my groin." The stories are endless, and endlessly alike, concerning mostly boys and men from their midteens to their mid-20s.

Most of "The Findings" consists of testimony of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. "Whilst still at the ashram, the worst thing for me -- as a mother of sons -- occurred when a young man, a college student, came to our room, to plead with David, 'Please Sir, do something to stop him sexually abusing us,'" Faye writes. "These sons of devotees, unable to bear their untenable position of being unwilling participants in a paedophile situation any longer, yet unable to share this with their parents because they would be disbelieved, placed their trust in David; a trust which had built over his five years as a visiting professor of music to the Sai college." These pleas eroded the Baileys' faith and finally made them go public.

Since then, the movement against Sai Baba has been snowballing. In the past few months, ex-devotees have contacted the FBI, Interpol, the Indian Supreme Court and a host of other agencies, hoping for help in their battle against the guru. A California man named Glen Meloy, who spent 26 years as a Sai devotee, is trying to organize a class-action lawsuit against Sai Organization leaders in America, modeled on the one recently launched against the Hare Krishnas.

His faith was shattered when he was shown excerpts from the diary of his close friend's 15-year-old son, detailing several incidents of molestation. The child of devotees, the boy had been raised to worship Sai Baba as God, and obliged when the master reportedly ordered his disciple to suck his penis. "You've got all these kids who are scared to death to do anything that will do disrespect to their parents, in a room with someone they believe to be the creator of the whole universe," said Meloy, his voice choked with fury. "This isn't just any child abuse; this is God himself claiming to do this."

Hari Sampath, an Indian software professional now living in Chicago and a former volunteer in the ashram's security service, is petitioning India's Supreme Court to order the central government to investigate Sai Baba. His greatest concern is for Sai Baba's Indian victims, who generally have a much more difficult time speaking out than Westerners do. During his time at Prasanthi Nilayam, he said, many students at the ashram's college told him they were pressured to have sex with the guru. "I've spoken to 20 or 30 boys who have been abused, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are 14-year-old kids made to live in his room and made to think it's a blessing. In most cases, their parents have been followers for 20 years and are not going to believe them," Sampath said by phone from Chicago. "Westerners have little to lose by coming forward. The Indians have to go on living among Sai Baba devotees."

Sai Baba, who hardly ever grants media interviews, alluded to the allegations himself at an address last year, saying, "Some devotees seem to be disturbed over these false statements. They are not true devotees at all. Having known the mighty power of Sai, why should you be afraid of the 'cawing of crows'? All that is written on walls [or] said in political meetings, or the vulgar tales carried by the print media, should not carry one away."

But the guru's alleged interest in his followers' phalli is pretty much an open secret among old hands at the ashram. The eerie thing about this story isn't just the evidence of widespread sexual abuse in one of the world's biggest cults -- after all, between the Roman Catholic Church and the Hare Krishnas, one is seldom surprised to find perversity in the shadow of piety these days. What's also strange is that many of Sai's followers seem to accept that their chastity-preaching guru takes young men, including minors, into a private chamber, asks them to drop their pants, masturbates them and occasionally demands blow jobs. They believe the stories, and they believe that he's God.

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Monday, 31 March 2008

After ‘Bitter Chocolate’, Pinki Virani thinks of fiction

March 17th, 2008 - 10:49 am

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS)- After the success of “Bitter Chocolate”, a book on child abuse in India, journalist-turned-author Pinki Virani is now willing to try her hand at fiction but says she will continue to highlight the same concerns. “The abuse of children will continue to be the central theme of my literary pursuits. It is the priority concern of my life, and I will carry on creating awareness to check incidents of child abuse so rampant in the country,” Virani told IANS.

She was among 15 women on whom Congress president Sonia Gandhi conferred the Stree Shakti Puraskar on International Women’s Day for their outstanding performance in various fields.

A bestseller, “Bitter Chocolate” in English has sold over 30,000 copies ever since it hit the stands in 2000. The book has undergone 11 reprints, and has also been translated into Marathi and Hindi.

“The astounding success of ‘Bitter Chocolate’ continues to be a major source of inspiration for me. I feel that every responsible member of society should come forward to save our children from any type of abuses. It is a major challenge before us.”

In the book, Virani has touched upon a number of queries as to what constitutes sexual abuse, why some men and women sexually abuse children, and what happens to such children when they grow up. She vividly puts forth the devastating consequences of child sexual abuse through a hundred varied case histories in the book.

Virani is confident that she will put down her concerns in a work of fiction as well. “There is no deadline, but I have something in mind. It will be a piece of fiction,” she said.

Her commitment to the cause of preventing children from abuses keeps her busy even today.

“It is an ongoing fight, and will keep going on till childhood stands protected. I understand that the task is difficult, but not impossible if each of us joins hands in creating awareness against child abuse.”

As women can play a key role in preventing child abuse, Virani was all praise for the government’s decision to encourage women for their exemplary services to society.

“It is a welcome move. The women can make a lot of difference in society if they are effectively empowered. For this, a lot needs to be done at the grassroots level,” Virani said.

[ Source: Click here ]

Pope 'led cover-up of child abuse by priests'

The Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests, according to a shocking documentary to be screened by the BBC tonight.

In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church's interests ahead of child safety.

The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated.

The Panorama special, Sex Crimes And The Vatican, investigates the details of this little-known document for the first time. The programme also accuses the Catholic Church of knowingly harbouring paedophile clergymen. It reveals that priests accused of child abuse are generally not struck off or arrested but simply moved to another parish, often to reoffend. It gives examples of hush funds being used to silence the victims.

Before being elected as Pope Benedict XVI in April last year, the pontiff was Cardinal Thomas Ratzinger who had, for 24 years, been the head of the powerful Congregation of the Doctrine of The Faith, the department of the Roman Catholic Church charged with promoting Catholic teachings on morals and matters of faith. An arch-Conservative, he was regarded as the 'enforcer' of Pope John Paul II in cracking down on liberal challenges to traditional Catholic teachings.

Five years ago he sent out an updated version of the notorious 1962 Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis - Latin for The Crime of Solicitation - which laid down the Vatican's strict instructions on covering up sexual scandal. It was regarded as so secret that it came with instructions that bishops had to keep it locked in a safe at all times.

Cardinal Ratzinger reinforced the strict cover-up policy by introducing a new principle: that the Vatican must have what it calls Exclusive Competence. In other words, he commanded that all child abuse allegations should be dealt with direct by Rome.

Patrick Wall, a former Vatican-approved enforcer of the Crimen Sollicitationis in America, tells the programme: "I found out I wasn't working for a holy institution, but an institution that was wholly concentrated on protecting itself."

And Father Tom Doyle, a Vatican lawyer until he was sacked for criticising the church's handling of child abuse claims, says: "What you have here is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy and to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by the churchmen.

"When abusive priests are discovered, the response has been not to investigate and prosecute but to move them from one place to another. So there's total disregard for the victims and for the fact that you are going to have a whole new crop of victims in the next place. This is happening all over the world."

The investigation could not come at a worse time for Pope Benedict, who is desperately trying to mend the Church's relations with the Muslim world after a speech in which he quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who said that Islam was spread by holy war and had brought only evil to the world.

The Panorama programme is presented by Colm O'Gorman, who was raped by a priest when he was 14. He said: "What gets me is that it's the same story every time and every place. Bishops appoint priests who they know have abused children in the past to new parishes and new communities and more abuse happens."

Last night Eileen Shearer, director of the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults said: "The Catholic Church in England and Wales (has) established a single set of national policies and procedures for child protection work. We are making excellent progress in protecting children and preventing abuse."

[ Source: Click here ]

Monday, 4 February 2008

Paedophile held for abusing 100 boys

Chandra Bhushan Pandey & Dipak Mishra
TNN, February 3, 2008

Motihari/Patna: A 40-year-old man who abducted nearly 100 teenaged boys and sexually abused them in captivity has been arrested by the Bihar police. Arjun Sah was caught on Wednesday when he was going from Motihari to Dhaka in a truck. There were two boys, a private school student from Riga in Sitamarhi he had kidnapped on January 23, and another teenager from Bettiah.

"Sah is a paedophile. He was nabbed earlier and had been charged with sodomy. He was released in 2006.", said ADGP (headquarters) Anil Sinha. A resident of Sakara Bazar on the Indo-Nepal border of Bihar's East Champaran district, Sah has also received ransom from the parents of abducted boys, police sources said.

East Champaran SP S K Jha said Sah was arrested after the father of the boy he had kidnapped from Riga filed a missing person's report. The Sitamarhi and Chiriya police sought the help of East Champaran police to rescue the boy. In the process. they arrested Sah and rescued the two boys.

The East Champaran police handed over Sah to Sitamarhi police. During interrogation, Sah confessed that he kidnapped boys to sodomise them. The kidnapped boys also said they were sodomised by Sah repeatedly during captivity.

Jha said Sah stayed in hotels with the boys he kidnapped. Sah is accused of kidnapping 27 children in Vaishali, Gopalganj, East and West Champaran, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Woman has husband arrested for six years of incest

By Faraz Khan
Saturday, December 01, 2007

KARACHI: A 36-year-old man S has been charged with using physical force and continually raping his daughter 16-year-old T for the last six years.

According to S’s statement to the police, he came home drunk one day and found his daughter, then 10 years old, alone at home. His wife B had gone to her family home along with their two sons.

In his inebriated state, S said that he could not control himself and started making sexual advancements on his daughter. She tried to resist but was overcome by her father who raped her and then beat her and then threatened to kill her and her mother if she told anyone. “The devil took over me, and I couldn’t think straight,” the police reported S as saying.It appears that S encouraged the child to stay at home when the mother went out. B started suspecting something was wrong as there had been a noticeable change in her husband and daughter over the last couple of months. Eventually, the daughter reportedly told her mother about what had happened unleashing devastation on the family.

The next day B confided in her brother. The matter was then taken to the family home where it was decided that it was best if they let the police handle the case. The police immediately lodged an FIR under sections 376 and 506 — rape and physical threat - on behalf of the girl’s mother and took S under custody.

They also sent T for a medical examination over doubts of her potential involvement with a third person and her father’s innocence. However, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital’s WMLO Dr Yasmeen Qamar said that an ultrasound and other tests proven that T had sexual encounters with only one person and that she was not pregnant.

S has been taken to Central Karachi Jail.

[ Source: ]