Childhood Abuse: What is Wrong with our Society?
Imagine a 14-year-old boy traveling in a crowded bus. He was standing as there was no seat. The roads are not smooth. The crevices and potholes making the journey jittery.
He had stomach related problems since he was a toddler. The milk he had before the journey was making him wobbly. He was struggling to balance his physical weakness and the discomfort of the journey.
He felt a hand caressing his genitals. The boy felt anxious. He didn’t know what was going on. It continued for 10 minutes after which the bus reached the destination. The hand clasped the boy’s genitals before letting it go. The boy closed his eyes in pain.
People went out of the bus. The boy saw an old man in front of him smiling. The white hair upon the man’s head gave his devilish smile an angelic face. The boy got out of the bus and walked. His mind was blank. He knew something bad happened but couldn’t quite make out what.
He wanted to cry but he feared people around him would judge him. He was often compared to a girl by his classmates and family members for being sensitive. So he promised he wouldn’t cry.
He feared a single tear from his eyes would call upon people around him to do the same. He didn’t cry but his mind was in agony. He had no one to tell his pain because he was afraid of being called ‘girly’ again.
The boy in the story is me. It was later that I realized I was sexually abused. After years of shame, I found the courage to write it down. This was my first experience with physical abuse. I still remember being verbally abused on similar lines by an adult man when I was five or six years old.
Delving into Reasons
The idea of getting sexually abused in broad daylight that too in a crowded place is grave. It is a shame that this happens. What is more serious is that a child who went across such a situation found it hard to talk about it. Even to cry about it was made difficult.
The man in question got away with his act. This opens up the fact that he was doing it for some time and mastered the crime of child abuse. I had to go through such experiences numerous times in my life.
Sometimes they would talk to me. Trying to get close before making their move. All of them were well dressed and looked like gentlemen. Always adults, some in white dhoti and white shirt hiding the filth inside. Some in-office executive look hiding the bestiality inside.
Some caressed my penis and squeezed it. Others rubbed their penis on my ass. Most of them happened when I was traveling on public transport. Most of the time I didn’t respond because I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to discuss it for the fear of getting stigmatized again. The religious conservatism of my family increased the intensity of the trauma.
I often wondered if it was only me but later I came to know that it has happened to many boys. But none talks.
The act of sexual harassment and abuse of both genders are considered a sin by all religions and societies. The situation is no different in India. But, talking about it is also shunned indirectly. Because people who talk about gets stigmatized by society. This is the irony of a conservative society.
Girls who complain about it are told to be modest and be silent. They are told that they are girls and it is they who should be careful. Boys who complain get told to ‘man-up’. They blame his ‘girliness’ for the nightmare he had. This indirectly makes them discouraged and suppressed.
Aggressiveness and abrasive behavior are seen as ‘Manly’. The discouragement of victim’s voices and encouragement of unruly behavior has resulted in the flourishing of sexual predatory. These situations culminate in developing a society that is ‘cultured’ and ‘civilized’ outside. Filthy and bestial inside.
Hypocrisy is the trademark of a conservative society. It might be in the name of religion, politics, or culture. The general reverence of religion has made religious conservatism the most common one. It has become the most dangerous.
Shunning the final act of bestiality by encouraging the mindset leading into it is non-sequitur. This lack of consensus has led to a dangerous predicament in Indian Society. Recent poll surveys of most dangerous places for women in the world put it at the top spot. From my experiences, Without a doubt, it is also the most dangerous for children irrespective of their gender.
Curiously, Indian society is one of the most religious also.
The change should start from the bottom. Religions should shun the conservative dogmas within them. Conservatism should be destroyed from within. The central idea of religions should be based on rationality. A rational basis in religion can change the society that believes in it.
A rational society would encourage discussion and debate. This would embolden the voices of victims through empathy. Victimhood will be protected. At the same time, victimhood based on irrational political grounds of polarization would get destroyed by the freedom and openness of such a society.
It is scientifically proven that gender is a spectrum. It is scientifically proven that gender and sexuality are different from each other. But religious conservatism has made societies indifferent to science and rationality. Gender barriers and strict adherence to gender roles are the results in this regard.
It is high time that religions shun their dogma and adopt science as a centerpiece of their existence.
Reading through the experiences of people who are victims of rape and other grave crimes, I have realized my experiences are nothing. But, the reasons that have resulted in all of them is the same.
I wish for a world where no other child will be abused. Where a child knows what is sex and what is abuse before they face the world alone. Sex education at an early age is necessary.
I wish for a world where a boy can cry and a girl can shout. Where a boy gets appreciated for his sensitivity and a girl gets appreciated for her boldness. Not getting type-cast as ‘Girlish’ or ‘Manly’.
A free and open society where rationality is a foundation can wholeheartedly accept LGBTQIA. Such a society would be safer for our children. In Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s words:
‘If you ask me, my ideal would be a society based on liberty, equality, and fraternity. An ideal society should be mobile and full of channels of conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts’