The recent incidents of sexual molestation in Bengaluru have once again brought to fore the reality of gender biaises and the stranglehold of patriarchal values in across society.
Molestation, rapes and all form of sexual abuse are a power game wherein the perpetrator cannot accept the victim deviating from accepted norms. True there are some aberrations that defy all explanations the most deafening being the rape of children and babies!
Sexual abuse of children in often committed by members or someone close to the family. These are the ones that go unreported as they touch upon the honour of the family and what is terrible the code of silence is often imposed not by a male, but a female member of the family.
Patriarchy decreed the daughter would be the repository of the family’s honour. Why not the son? The son can do no wrong; this is a notion prevalent across the board, a sentiment aptly defined in the words of a leading politician: boys will be boys.
Every time there is a rape or molestation case civil society wakes up and, post a few candle lit marches and fiery speeches, sinks back into silence. What is always sought is the hanging of the perp as if that act alone would solve all issues.
Experience has shown that this is not the case as rapes and abuse continue with impunity. Recently a tailor, father of five was arrested for having molested hundreds of girls!
We need to protect our children as boys too suffer abuse. The statistics on chid abuse are terrifying. One child abused is one too many!
Long term solutions are not the need of the hour. Children cannot wait. What we are dealing with is age old mindsets that will not vanish overnight. Patriarchy is too deed rooted. The only immediate solution is to inform children about abuse and empower to say NO, a no so loud that it cannot be ignored. It all begins with the notion of ‘good’ touch and ‘bad’ touch.
This is something we do at Project WHY at an early age. Our effort is to also lend a patient and understanding year to every child.
Regular workshops for adolescent are conduced regularly in order to address all the questions that can never be asked within the four walls of a patriarchal home.
It is not easy to grow up in a slum. Though the family is uber traditional, the environment is quite different. Television has invaded the home and the ubiquitous smart phone had reached every hand each claiming its space, its supremacy. Think of the child, the adolescent, the teenager having to navigate in between these two!
We plan to have workshops on cyber crime soon.
We do our best to help children grow into responsible adults but above all we strive to give them a voice!